Highway Patrol seeks dump truck driver after detention officer hospitalized

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 10, 2020

By Shavonne Potts

SALISBURY — The N.C. State Highway Patrol is looking for the driver of a dump truck that may have been involved in a Wednesday morning collision that left a Rowan County Detention Center officer hospitalized.

The 25-year-old officer left work around 6 a.m. and was on her way home on Interstate 85, traveling southbound near the Brookshire Boulevard exit, when a dump truck struck her side mirror. She pulled over onto the left shoulder and called 911 to report the accident. She also called a family member to tell them she would be late, said Trooper Ray Pierce, public information officer for Troop H.

A pickup truck traveling in the left lane then drifted onto the shoulder and struck the rear of her Toyota Corolla. He was going an estimated 55 to 66 mph. There were no signs that he attempted to brake before impact, Pierce said. The name of the driver was not immediately available, but he has been cited with careless and reckless driving as well as failure to reduce speed to avoid a collision. Pierce said further charges are possible pending the outcome of the officer’s injuries.

A red dump truck was shown on N.C. Department of Transportation traffic cameras on the right shoulder of the road around the same time as the collision. Pierce said it’s not clear if the dump truck was the same one that clipped the officer’s vehicle or coincidentally was on the shoulder of the road at the same time. Pierce said troopers hope to talk with the driver of the dump truck to gather more details about the crash.

The detention center officer’s name was not provided Wednesday. She remains in critical condition at Carolinas Medical Center-Main. Pierce said the officer had lived in Rockwell, but had relocated to or was temporarily living in Shelby. According to Rowan County Sheriff’s spokesman Maj. John Sifford, the officer started working with the agency in June.

Rowan County Chaplain Michael Taylor, who has been a chaplain with the Sheriff’s Office for 27 years, was brought to tears as he talked about the incident.

“Law enforcement officers — it’s a family. They stick together. I try to bring comfort to them in time of need,” Taylor said.

He said volunteers try to pray with officers, counsel them and be there for them at times like this.

“We try to let them know we appreciate what they do,” he said.

Taylor created the Shield a Badge with Prayer program, which pairs an officer with someone in the community who will pray for them.

“I know it works. I know officers’ lives have been saved because of the prayers of God’s people,” he said.

Taylor said he was awakened on Wednesday morning and began to pray.

“I know the Lord knew that somebody needed my prayers during that time,” he said.

Taylor recalled meeting the officer for the first time a few weeks ago to give her a Christmas gift along with others in the department.