Stephanie Mayorga and Paige Escalera

‘You didn’t think to come back?’: Friends want answers after police fail to return to crash scene where beloved couple died

Wilmington, North Carolina, authorities arrived quickly after a 911 call about a crash on the night of April 15, but they failed to find anything. Weeks later, a beloved couple was found dead in the area.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, police discovered two bodies on May 4, inside a grey 2013 Dodge Dart, off of Independence Blvd. and River Road in Wilmington. The vehicle matched the description of a car belonging to Paige Escalera, one of two recently engaged women who hadn’t been seen since April 15.

In a Facebook post, the Wilmington Police Department said the bodies were too badly decomposed for immediate identification, but they believe they found the bodies of Stephanie Mayorga, 27, and Escalera.

Escalera and Mayorga left their Wilmington apartment on April 15 at around 10 p.m. It was the last time anyone saw them alive.

A little before midnight on April 15, a truck driver called 911. He said he witnessed a car speeding through a stop sign, smashing into a wall, then disappearing.

“This is like really serious,” the 911 caller said.

“There’s a stop sign. The car didn’t stop at the stop sign and kept driving so fast. I was seeing it with my back mirror. I was already passed the car, you know? And I was seeing it with my back mirror. The car smashed the wall there.”

Police and EMS showed up within minutes of the 911 call. They searched the area but found nothing. According to WECT News 6, authorities were not notified that the couple had disappeared until April 19, several days after the crash.

The couple’s roommate reportedly did not realize she didn’t have to wait 48 hours before reporting the woman missing, thus prolonging search efforts.

“You can clear all units off this,” an officer who arrived at the scene on April 15 said.

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An EMS unit then reported that they didn’t find a vehicle. Port City Daily reports that the area showed signs of a crash, although it was likely more challenging for officials to notice it at night.

However, no one returned the following day.

“When first responders arrived they met with the caller and searched the area with flashlights,” Wilmington police said. “However they were unable to find any sign of a collision and no one with injuries.”

Friends, who laid flowers at the crash site in memory of the couple, are disturbed that no one returned to the scene to search further.

“If they would have come back and searched the area a little bit more the next morning, they would have been able to see [signs of an accident],” Mayorga’s friend, Jacqueline Garland, said.

“But this would be the first place that I would search the next day, if there was a call that someone was going fast down Independence. … I’m not even an investigator and I know these things.”

Escalera’s friend, Bianca Pasquini, agreed.

“It goes from sadness to anger. Someone reported an accident, and an article said the cops came with a flashlight, but you didn’t think to come back during the day and [search again]?”

So far, officials have not explained why no one returned to search the area until over two weeks after the 911 call.

Meanwhile, the community is pushing to make the River Road and Independence Road safer. Neighbors indicated that the intersection is dangerous around the curb.

“They’ve had a lot of accidents since I’ve been here. I think they need to put something like a flashing light to let people know there’s a stop sign,” Doris Cunningham told WECT 6.

A traffic signal in the area is “under consideration,” according to officials.

Check back for updates.

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[Feature Photo: Police Handout]