Street race driver found guilty on new charges

May 31, 2009 12:52:58 PM PDT
Eight years after the Triangle was shocked by a street racing crash on I-540 that killed four teens, one man involved is facing new charges.Chris Petersen, who was one of the drivers back in 2001, has been found guilty on new charges including DWI and hit-and-run.

He pleaded guilty in June 2004 to four counts of misdemeanor death by vehicle and one count of excessive speed in the accident that claimed the lives of Bryan Reaves, Jamie Brewer, Mike Smith and Matthew Yurcak.

He's been on camera many times after that - including in 2006 when Eyewitness News caught him driving while serving probation for the wreck case - probation that banned him from driving. He was sent to jail for a short time, but finished his parole.

Now, a Wake County judge has found 25-year-old Petersen guilty in a wreck he was involved in last September on Lynn Road.

According to a Raleigh Police report, he crashed his car on Lynn Road, took the keys and ran to his nearby apartment.

Police found Petersen's wrecked and abandoned car blocking traffic and went to his apartment. When they found him there, he was intoxicated but denied driving the car.

"The first thing I noticed about Mr. Petersen was the strong odor of alcoholic beverage," Raleigh Police Corporal F.T. Hines said. "He seemed to be unsteady on his feet."

When police asked him how he got a scratch on his head, he said he had a fight with his girlfriend.

"He told me he was drinking and he wrecked his car and he left the accident and told me to tell the cops about the scratch," said Felicity Gault, who says she went out with Petersen a couple times last year.

When she did, she was arrested for assault, spent hours in jail and $1,000 on an attorney who got the charges dropped.

Petersen was eventually charged with hit-and-run, filing a false report and driving without a license. Petersen was offered a plea deal for the wreck, but he opted for a trial.

Late Friday evening, a Wake County judge sentenced Petersen to a year's probation as an alternative to jail time.

And this month, while that case was still pending, Petersen was arrested again on DWI charges.

"He doesn't need to have a license he doesn't need to be behind a car," Gault said. "He goes and drinks and drives again and has another DUI, so he didn't learn his lesson that time and he's not going to learn it this time."

But Petersen's lawyer, Nick Saparilis, says he feels prosecutors have been tough on Petersen.

"I do think that he has been treated differently by everybody," he said.


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