Justin Youles, 17, watched in horror early Monday as his best friend, 18-year-old Mikeal "Butterbean" Hodges, was struck by an allegedly drunken driver in a fatal hit-and-run accident on U.S. 17.
The two Glynn Academy seniors had left Youles' house in Belle Point and were riding their bikes southbound when the incident occurred, he said. Youles said he was riding on the west side of the highway behind Hodges, who was traveling in the middle of the grassy median.
"I saw the car fly by and hit him," Youles said Monday. "I guess the driver fell asleep at the wheel because I watched the car go from the left lane then into the right lane, and then all the way back into the left lane again and into the median."
Youles said he immediately ran to his best friend's side and checked for a pulse.
"I rode my bike over there and checked for his heart and breath, but I didn't feel any of it," he said.
Hodges was rushed to the emergency room of the Brunswick hospital of Southeast Georgia Health System, where he died from multiple trauma. He was pronounced dead at 1:21 a.m. by Glynn County Coroner Jimmy Durden.
Minutes after the accident, Georgia State Patrol Trooper 1st Class Marlon Groover stopped a driver at 12:37 a.m. for a broken headlight.
Groover didn't know about the accident at the time he pulled the driver over, said Cpl. Chris Nease, of the GSP post in Brunswick.
While Groover was questioning the driver, Enrique Martinez, 25, a call came over the police radio with a description of the hit-and-run suspect's vehicle, which was a white Honda Accord. The trooper noticed damage on the left side of Martinez's vehicle and questioned him about it, Nease said.
Martinez was then arrested and taken to the Glynn County Detention Center.
He was charged with first degree vehicular homicide, driving under the influence, hit-and-run and driving with a suspended license. He also was charged with possession of an open alcoholic beverage container.
Nease said Martinez was wanted on additional warrants by Glynn County police.
Hodges leaves behind a best friend who is in shock, confused and angry. Youles said both he and Hodges had reflectors on their bikes.
He said he had expected to see his friend sit up, dust off his hands and pick up his bicycle off the roadway.
"We always said, never underestimate 'the Bean' because he could always do stuff that no one else could do," Youles said.
Youles said he doesn't know what he will do when he graduates from Glynn Academy this May. Ever since they were freshmen at the school, the two friends had planned to join the Marines together.
"We were best friends and always hung out, and we were in the same ROTC company," said Youles. "We liked to play video games, skateboard, and watch TV. (Hodges) really liked comedy stuff."
He said his friend always knew how to make others laugh.
"(Hodges) always cracked jokes and stuff and could make somebody smile even if they were mad," he said. "He was just 'the Butterbean.'"