‘The police are calling me’ Affidavits show investigation into deadly SC hit and run

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Max Gentilin, charged with hitting and killing two women early Sunday morning on Morrison Drive, has been released from the Al Cannon Detention Center on a $300,000 surety bond.

Affidavits from the Charleston Police Department’s investigation into the deadly crash appear to show the 25-year-old Charleston man knew police were looking to speak with him hours after striking the two victims.

The Sunday morning crash

Lizzy Zito and Ariana Gamber were walking home in the early hours of Sunday morning, according to Zito’s family members.

“It was like 1:15 a.m., she said she was going to be home in 15 minutes and that didn’t come; so, we figured the incident was between one and two o’clock in the morning,” said her father, Frank Zito.

An investigation by the Charleston Police Department determined a Honda Acura, driven by Gentilin, was traveling north on Morrison Drive around 1:43 a.m. when it ran off the right side of the roadway, struck the two women, and ran onto the curb which had thick brush and foliage.

Charleston police respond to deadly hit and run on Morrison Drive
Charleston police respond to deadly hit and run on Morrison Drive

The vehicle continued on the raised area along the curb for several feet before reentering the roadway.

Affidavits show the bodies of both victims were found hours later among the foliage with traumatic injuries when a citizen called 9-1-1 around 8:30 a.m. to report seeing two unresponsive victims.

Both were pronounced dead at the scene.

Evidence at the scene

Investigators said several vehicle parts were found at the crash site. They also observed dark tire markings in the roadway, indicating the vehicle’s path of travel. Those markings were consistent with that of a flat tire and led to a parking spot on the street near the Morrison Yard Apartments, not far from the incident location.

Affidavits show the Honda had sustained damage and the right passenger side tire was flat. There were also leaves and twigs on the interior and exterior of the vehicle.

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Video obtained from the apartment complex shows a person exiting the driver’s side of the vehicle and inspecting the damage. Another shows the man, Gentilin, removing twigs and leaves from outside the vehicle. He can also be heard saying, “What am I supposed to do?” according to the documents.

The affidavit states that Gentilin told a friend that he had struck a tree by the bridge immediately after the crash.

A search of the license plate through the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV) came back as registered to an address belonging to Gentilin’s parents. They told law enforcement that their son was the driver and in possession of the Honda Acura.

It was revealed during a Thursday afternoon bond hearing that Gentilin stayed at his parent’s home after the crash.

Behavior at work

Gentilin arrived to work at a downtown Charleston restaurant around 10:00 a.m. Sunday, hours after the deadly crash, according to the affidavits.

The man’s co-workers told investigators that his behavior appeared to be abnormal and out of character, even seeming to be panicked.

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At one point, the affidavit said Gentilin told one of his managers, “I crashed my car last night and the police are calling me. I need to go handle this.” He also stated, “I f—– up. I f—– up.”

Gentilin left work about an hour and a half before his scheduled end of shift.

The victims

The victims, both 20, were from Simpsonville in South Carolina’s upstate. Family members for Zito said she and Ariana Gamber were in town visiting friends for the weekend.

This photo shows Lizzy Zito and family members, courtesy Christopher Zito
This photo shows Lizzy Zito and family members, courtesy Christopher Zito

Zito was a psychology major at the College of Charleston with plans to graduate on May 10 after having completed her degree in three years.

College leaders described her as being musically talented with a passion for creating music. Her father said Lizzy loved animals and was working at a local clinic.

“She’d sing every night in the other bedroom with her headset, and she made up her own music, recorded her own music,” Zito said. “Lizzy was everyone’s heart and soul. Everybody loved her. Our lives will never be the same.”

Not much is known about Gamber; however, her mother, Nicole Gamber, told News 2 in a phone interview that she “was in love with life” and said they were praying that justice would be brought to both families.

Gentilin’s bond hearing

Gentilin turned himself in to law enforcement on the afternoon of April 30. He was charged with two counts of leaving the scene of an accident causing death and held at the Al Cannon Detention Center.

Family members of both women spoke during a Thursday afternoon bond hearing and asked for harsh penalties against Gentilin as they sought justice for their daughters.

“[He] has family here that harbored him since Sunday until yesterday when the warrant was issued. I don’t believe that leaving the scene of an accident, abandoning your vehicle, and not turning yourself in shows a lack of flight risk by any means,” said Gamber.

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“He needs to stay in jail. Those two girls need to have justice. He left them laying […] he left them there and just dumped the car and didn’t turn himself in for days. He has zero sympathy for life for any person in the world. He put a hole in our heart that will never be full,” Zito said.

The judge who oversaw the hearing said she had to follow what state law would allow when setting Gentilin’s bond.

“These are terrible cases because I do not have the ability to deny bond. South Carolina law only allows me to deny bond on cases that are deemed violent, and amazingly, this is not one,” she said.

Max Gentilin attends a bond hearing in Charleston County on Thursday, May 2.
Max Gentilin attends a bond hearing in Charleston County on Thursday, May 2.

He was given a $150,000 bond on each charge for a total surety bond of $300,000. Jail records show he was released from the detention center around 11:00 p.m. Thursday.

In the affidavits, investigators said that dispatch records indicate Gentilin never attempted to contact law enforcement after the crash, nor did he stay at the scene or render aid to the victims.

“The defendant was aware that he had been involved in a collision,” the affidavits state.

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