Pastor, wife hit by suspected drunken driver on way to church

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 11, 2011

By Nathan Hardin
SALISBURY— A Charlotte man was arrested after authorities say drunken driving led to a collision on Interstate 85 with a preacher and his wife on their way to church Sunday morning.
According to a Highway Patrol report, Bryan Christopher Ahrens was arrested Wednesday morning and charged with aggravated felony-serious injury by vehicle after he veered across two lanes hitting the couple’s white Toyota pickup.
The report said the pickup, driven by Baptist pastor David Crook and his wife, Bentha, swerved to the left after being clipped and hit the middle retaining wall while heading south on I-85 at about 9:50 a.m. Sunday morning. The wreck occurred between the Innes Street exit and Jake Alexander Blvd.
Ahrens, who was driving a 2003 Jeep Laredo, told Trooper C.J. Doty that he had been drinking at East Carolina University with friends and was on his way to Charlotte.
Doty said Ahrens was impaired at the time of the accident.
Ahrens, 22, told Doty, according to the report, that he had stopped drinking at about 1 a.m. and had left Greenville at about 7 a.m.
Doty said Ahrens was traveling 75 mph in a 65 mph zone. Ahrens told Doty that he briefly looked down at his radio before hitting the couple.
The report said the Crooks are in their 60s and received significant injuries. Bentha Crook was reported to have a broken vertebra.
All three were taken to Rowan Regional Medical Center.
The Crooks attend the Mt. Hope United Church of Christ, 7008 Old Concord Road. The report said David Crook is a retired preacher, but was serving in an interim pastor role for the church.
Ahrens, who lives off Beardsley Drive in Charlotte, is a 2007 North Mecklenburg High School graduate. He also attended N.C. State University. He was given a $5,000 bond and was in jail Wednesday night.