Widow of High Point firefighter killed in hit-and-run wants harsher penalties

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SUMMERFIELD, N.C. -- A firefighter’s widow is fighting for justice.

Todd Martinez and his wife, Melanie, were on a bike ride back in February. They were on Scalesville Road, two miles away from their home. Melanie was in front of Todd when a driver hit him from behind and killed him. The driver didn’t stop.

“I have a lot of thoughts and feelings and sounds and smells that I can’t get rid of,” explains Melanie.

Police ended up finding the driver, 19-year-old Andrew Barham, and charging him with felony hit and run resulting in death. Barham could face anywhere from 10 months to 59 months.

Melanie is worried that a judge will let him off easy.

“They get their driver’s license taken away or get a minimal sentence, that’s not a consequence for taking a life,” says Melanie.

Harless is working with lawmakers to make harsher penalties for those convicted of hit-and-runs.

“There needs to be more accountability for someone that is inconsiderate and immature enough to kill someone and drive away and leave for someone for dead.”

She’s also asking anyone in the community that knew Todd or was somehow touched by him to write a letter. Harless wants to give the letters to the judge in hopes to impact his decision.

Letters can be e-mailed to lettersfortodd@gmail.com



  • yourmom

    roads are for cars not bikes , not saying that hit and run in right or anything like that , If what ever your ridding can not do the speed limit you should not be on the roads ,there are plenty of places you can go and ride like a park. get off our roads

    • bigtrav261

      Um, no. Bikes are a LEGAL form of transportation. Interstates are the only place where it’s illegal. You see, there are these two newfangled concepts called “being patient” and “paying attention”. There’s not a lot of people on them around here, anyways.

      • Aaron

        Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it should be. I have to put my life in danger to go in the opposing lane to safely pass bikers. Why should I have to do this in order for you to enjoy your hobby. I agree. They should not be allowed on roadways.

      • bigtrav261

        How are you putting your life in danger? I’ve never been behind a bike where I couldn’t wait a little bit till the opposing lane was free enough of traffic to pass a bike. Again, it comes down to patience and everybody being in such a hurry to get where they’re going. And, what about those who don’t live near a park, or use it as transportation, or they “care about the environment”.

        And, just to clarify, I don’t even own a bicycle, so…

      • Jackie

        So what should people who can’t afford cars do? There is not good public transportation around here. So they should have to walk places? Have someone drive them to work? Biking is not just a hobby – many people use it as their primary means of transportation.

  • sinner 3

    Doesn’t matter about the charge !! All that matters is the final plea deal reached !! True in all cases but you can get away with murder in N.C. do it with a car and throw in some drinks and you get a free pass on hard time !!

  • george

    If doing the speed limit is the only requirement for being on the road, then there would be more accidents than what there is. Driving with caution and safety in mind is what is required and it is pretty obvious Barham wasn’t doing this. And to top matters off he fled the scene after failing to pay attention as to what was in the roadway. Barham failed to SHARE the road. I hope karma jumps up at yourmom and a tractor trailer teaches yourmom about not sharing the road. Oh..I guess some folks never learn!!!

  • FaithC

    I agree with this woman. The punishment needs to be much harsher for hit and run. It needs to be much harsher for many other crimes too.

  • mimilll

    There are a lot of *ISSUES* which need to be and should be addressed in NC. Yes, I agree with you. Anyone who would hit a person and not even stop should get prison time for doing so. It is sad when people get by with committing murder in such a manner. I can only hope and pray that this man will pay for what he did. There is a lot of *corruption and cover up* though throughout our country and unfortunately NC is included. There are *innocent people who get indicted, tried and convicted without any evidence at all* and then you have people like this who killed a person and did NOT even stop. I hope you can indeed get the NC General Assembly members to change the laws and make sure this man is held accountable and responsible for his actions.

  • Oldtimer

    In response to Aaron: North Carolina law says that one can not cross a double yellow line into the opposite lane. Many of our local roads are predominately no passing areas. The only option I see available in this case is to slowly follow the slower traffic until a legal passing area is available. Share the Road really means that traffic should travel at the speed of the slowest vehicle, with passing allowed only where there is no yellow line in the lane. I refuse to pass a two wheeled vehicle in the same lane allowing about a foot or two of space. The bicycle is not that stable, and can wander if hitting loose material or a break in the road. There is a solution. Take bicycles off the public highways, and let them be ridden on private property only, with the owners permission of course.

  • beth

    In response to this article, I want to first state I certainly respect Mrs. Martinez’s desire to seek justice for her husband’s death considering the circumstances surrounding his tragic death. However, her motive for seeking a harsher penalty by implying Mr. Barham to be “inconsiderate and immature enough to kill someone and drive away and leave for someone for dead” is unfair and impetuous. I believe it is important to consider all the circumstances in which this accident occurred before making such a harsh judgment of this young man’s character.

    First of all, I live on Scalesville Road. Unfortunately, the time in which this accident occurred is one of the peak times for high traffic volume on our road. The sun is directly in your eyes at this time so visibility is also VERY difficult. The terrain on the side of Scalesville Road does not make it easy for bikers to move out of the way of oncoming traffic so car drivers must carefully and patiently wait for a safe time to pass. It is extremely challenging even for experienced drivers. The speed limit is 55 mph on Scalesville so even when you make the decision to pass a biker, you still run the risk of another car approaching very quickly. I have lived here since 1996 and cannot begin to count the times I have been in this predicament. Our rural community is beautiful and I completely respect why bikers ride here. But it is dangerous. Especially at the time of day the accident occurred. I make these points to help your readers understand the circumstances that led to the likelihood of this type of tragedy occurring on Scalesville Road.

    It is important to also consider this young man’s character and family witness in this community before deeming him to be the character descriptions Mrs. Martinez uses in the article. It is understandable why she describes him as such because she lost her husband. But let’s be clear, this accident was not intentional – it is a terrible tragedy. One can only imagine the fear and anxiety Mr. Barham felt when he fled the scene. We can all agree he should NOT have left and he has been rightly charged with felony hit and run resulting in death. He will serve time for his part in this accident. You can rest assured though that this young man and his family will live with the consequences of the loss of Mr. Martinez’s life for the rest of their lives – a very harsh penalty in its truest sense. My prayers are with both Summerfield families. We are a close-knit community and this tragedy has affected us all very deeply.

    • jan johnson todd's mother in law

      it’s been proven that the sun was NOT in any driver’s eyes @ this time
      change in the law would NOT affect this case, they don’t grandfather in
      Todd was the safest biker ever, he’s ridden in other countries & states in the US, he was on the white line.
      you probably know that nc law states that bikes have the same rights to the roadway as cars

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