Driver accused of killing foreign exchange student in Corolla: “I pray every day for his family”

Posted at 11:26 PM, Sep 03, 2014

Deputies say Peter Luke hit and killed 21-year-old Asen Zahariev last Monday night along NC Highway 12 in the Outer Banks.

The morning after the accident, state troopers say 37-year-old Luke came to work and said he hit a deer in that same area of NC 12. He told investigators that he did get out and look but didn`t see anything. Luke was later arrested and while in custody in the back of the patrol car, troopers say he told them “I hope someone comes forward but deep down I think I hit him.”

Luke is now out on bond. NewsChannel 3 reached out to him at his home in Corolla.

“I would like to say that I pray every day for his family,” Luke said.

Zahariev was an exchange student from Bulgaria, staying in the Outer Banks for the summer as part of an international work and travel program.

He was walking along NC 12 Monday night, just around the corner from his apartment, when troopers say Luke hit and killed him. Zahariev`s body was found the next morning by a delivery driver.

“Very nice young man,” says Darlene Adams, who knew Zahariev from his job at The Cottage Shop in Corolla.” Very bubbly, outgoing personality.”

Adams says he also worked at the Harris Teeter and the Dunkin Donuts there, saving up money for travel and schooling.

“From what I can understand, he had about another week and he was headed back to go to school,” she says.

Adams, along with many other locals NewsChannel 3 spoke with, say the bigger issue here is how dangerous NC 12 is for cyclists and those on foot, like Zahariev.

Currituck County says they have a plan to fix it. County officials say they`re hoping to have, at minimum, ten foot wide multi-use sidewalks along NC 12 built by next summer. However, locals here say that`s not soon enough.

“I personally think it should start right now,” Adams says. “The season is coming to a halt and it`s the perfect time I think to get this started. I don`t think we need to wait until another tragedy happens.”

According to a spokesperson for Corolla Ocean Rescue, Luke worked as a lieutenant lifeguard and was fired the day of his arrest. The spokesperson says Luke’s termination had nothing to do with the arrest, but would not comment on why he was fired.

Luke is scheduled to be in court later this month.