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Tip leads to arrest in deadly 2012 hit-and-run

Michael Atkinson, 45, was charged with an accident causing death or bodily damage. The March 2012 crash killed 24-year-old Kimberly Encinia.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Nueces County District Attorney's Office has charged a man they believe is responsible for a deadly hit-and-run that killed a woman more than a decade ago.

Michael Atkinson, 45, was charged while serving time in the Nueces County Jail on unrelated charges, according to Corpus Christi Police.

Credit: Corpus Christi Police Department
Michael Atkinson

Tip ends 10-year search in 10 days

The police department says someone came forward with a tip 10 days ago on July 12 about the 2012 hit-and-run crash that killed 24-year-old Kimberly Encinia.

Encinia was walking along McArdle Road just west of Ennis Joslin Road on Feb. 11, 2012 when she was hit. Her mother said was heading to a girl's Valentine's Day sleepover not far from her house. The driver left her on the side of the road. Emergency crews arrived at 11:39 p.m. and rushed her to the hospital where she later died.

The case went unsolved for more than a decade. But police say after the tip on July 12, detectives interviewed several people and turned the case over to the DA's office, which decided to press charges.

Atkinson's bond was set at $250,000 dollars.

Timothy Frazier with CCPD said that the tip is what got officers to make connections in the case.

"Able to take evidence we had in the past and connect it to today, even though its been ten years, we were able to put pieces together, spoke to him, our suspect, put everything together enough that a judge supported our probable cause," Frazier.

He added that the mother was more than happy to receive closure after more than a decade.

"Actually went to her last night right when we were securing the warrant, and let her know we got the warrant and got the guy in custody. A little emotional she was really happy, she was ecstatic," Frazier said.

Mother never gave up hope in search for driver responsible for daughter's death

Credit: KIII
Mary Encinia speaks with reporters during a live report on 3NEWS in 2014.

Mary Encinia has never stopped searching for the person responsible for hitting and killing her daughter.

She's contacted 3NEWS multiple times over the years asking that we continue to feature Kimberly's case in the news on the anniversary of her death.

Death led to road improvements to keep pedestrians safe

Credit: KIII
McArdle Road reopens after the bond project came to an end in 2019. (Photo from Aug. 22, 2019)

At the time of Kimberly Encinia's death in 2012, there were no sidewalks on McArdle Road. The city changed that in 2017, adding 5-foot sidewalks to both sides of McArdle.

The CAT construction equipment the city used to make those road and sidewalk changes was painted pink in Kimberly's honor.

"I'm actually seeing the people using the sidewalks already," Mary Encinia said in 2018, "And it brings me great joy to see that."

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