Trooper going 120 mph before crash

May 27, 2010 2:29:43 PM PDT
A preliminary accident report shows a North Carolina Highway Patrol officer was traveling at 120 miles per hour before a crash that killed a grandmother and an 11-year-old child.

Investigators say Trooper J.D. Goodnight slowed to 95 mph before he hit a car driven by 55-year-old Sandra Allmond.

Allmond and 11-year-old Taylor Strange were killed by the force of the impact that split their car in half - leaving the engine and front wheels on the other side of the highway. Two other children in the back seat survived the crash and were treated and released from a local hospital.

According to the Highway Patrol, Goodnight was traveling southbound on the Interstate 85 Business Loop just before noon Sunday in Jamestown when he clocked a Buick Skylark traveling northbound at 80 mph in a 55 mph zone. He activated his blue lights and turned around headed north. He slammed into Allmond as she was turning left at a green light at the River Road intersection.

It's not clear if Goodnight was using his siren. The accident report released Thursday says witnesses did not hear one.

It also says Allmond "failed to yield" and witnesses reported that Goodnight steered to the right to try and avoid the crash but was unable to.

Click here to read the report (.pdf)

At a morning news conference, Highway Patrol Commander Colonel Randy Glover told reporters he has agreed for the Attorney General's Office to do an independent investigation into the crash.

"Our hearts go out to the families," said Glover. "I am a family man myself and I have an 10-year-old girl. It rips at my heart."

But Glover said troopers have a job to do.

"They try their best to keep everyone safe, but sometimes things happen," he said.

Glover pledged to get to the bottom of what happened.

"We will answer the questions that arise in this investigation," said Glover.

A final internal report on the crash is expected in 6-8 weeks. In the meantime, Goodnight is on paid leave.

Officials said they were looking at their policies as a result of the crash. They said there was no internal policy that sets a maximum speed allowed in pursuits. Officers are expected to rely on their training to determine what is safe.

Family reaction

Strange's mother Michele Casler blamed speed for the crash in comments to reporters Wednesday.

"Speed was a cause of this tragedy. I believe that if it was not for speed this would not have happened," she said.

Casler said her daughter was about to graduate from the fifth grade.

"She was my only child and was my whole world," she said.

The First Pentecostal Church is accepting donations for the Allmond family. For more information, contact the church at (336) 884-5661 or Pastor Lark Lewis at (336) 561-7811.

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