In Thursday's evening light, Aimée Argote and her friend thought the bodies in the road were a pile of garbage.
"Ivin Levander Scurlock and Alexandra Nicole Simou," Argote wrote four days later on her website. "Cyclists. Hit and run. Face down in the road, blood everywhere, bike lights still flickering across lanes of traffic, bicycles smashed so violently together that they looked like one."
Argote, a musician with local indie rock band Des Ark, had left a Sept. 19 show at The Pinhook in Durham and was headed to her Pittsboro home when she and a friend found the bodies—abandoned and injured—on a dimly lit portion of U.S. 15-501 South just outside Chapel Hill town limits. Scurlock, 41, was dead. Simou, 40, was alive but unconscious. Both were victims of a hit-and-run near Southern Village.
"So we lay with her in the middle of the highway, trying to flag down help, holding her and talking to her and begging her to stay with us long enough for help to arrive," Argote wrote. "She did. We hope she heard us, and we hope she didn't feel alone, marred and left for dead in the middle of the road, cars whizzing by as if nothing were happening."
Three days later, Simou died at UNC Hospital. As of Tuesday morning, no one has answered for Simou or Scurlock's deaths.
Not much is known of Simou or Scurlock, or the driver who left them here to die at 11:30 on a Thursday night.
According to the State Highway Patrol, Scurlock and Simou were biking south on 15-501 when a vehicle struck them from behind. The evidence, scant as it is, indicates the pair were hit by a smaller vehicle. Neither rider wore a helmet, but Scurlock was dressed in a reflective vest.
The vehicle should have front-end and windshield damage, although law enforcement could not determine its make or model. Troopers were pursuing leads last week, but as of press time, no arrests had been made.
In Orange County, it was the second traffic fatality in as many days. One day earlier, a local woman was struck by a car on Fordham Boulevard in Chapel Hill.
At the time of her death, Simou had spent time over the last year in the Inter-Faith Council shelter in Orange County.
Her mother, Asheville resident Vicki Rhine, says Simou was known as "the bike girl" around town, traveling miles every day on her beloved bicycle.
"She wasn't a depressed person, she was a very happy person," Rhine said. "How I sound right now? She never sounded like that."
Rhine says the driver should come forward. "That person, he or she is at the bottom of my list. It's not going to bring my daughter back, but she could have lived had that person stopped and called 911."
Simou, a longtime Carrboro resident, once ran a dog-grooming business, riding her bike to distribute flyers advertising it. Judy Klimcheck, IFC residential services director, called Simou a "butterfly" during staff meetings, referring to her love for nature, animals and bicycling.
"Some people are remembered by what they take in life, what they own or possess," Klimcheck said. "Others are remembered by what they give. Alexandra gave her smile. She gave an example of her joy and how to find joy. She was a very joyous person."
Less is known about Scurlock, a Chatham County native who was often seen with Simou. The pair were a couple, eating meals and biking together.
"It's one thing to have an accident," Klimcheck said. "I don't understand them not stopping. All I can say is I hope everyone can forgive that person because that person is going to need some forgiveness."
Richard Giorgi, founder of Carrboro biking nonprofit The Recyclery, said there was likely little Simou or Scurlock could have done to avoid the car on this dark stretch of highway that has neither bike lanes nor a shoulder.
Giorgi encourages riders to make eye contact with motorists. He also said nighttime riders should opt for blinking rear lights because they draw motorists' attention. As for drivers, Giorgi said they must be watchful at all hours.
"Understand we're all important in this world," he said. "We all have people who care for us. We all have stories."
Argote said she never thought anyone would read her post. But in the days since Simou's and Scurlock's deaths, her story has been "liked" hundreds of times on Facebook and widely distributed among locals. Argote said she's even spoken with Simou's mother.
"It just doesn't seem possible that in your life, you'd find people abandoned like that," Argote said.
She has nothing to say to the driver who struck Simou and Scurlock. "As soon as you think one person is to blame, you remove yourself from that part of the equation," she said. "You remove yourself from the reality that any of us could do that. We're all capable of doing that."
Her post concludes, not with a warning, but with a plea.
"Please use the roadways with all respect and acute attention they deserve, and please be safe in everything you do ... even the most dangerous of things, which makes you as brave as I know you are. Love, Aimée."
This article appeared in print with the headline "Mean streets."