Highway Patrol says speed didn't cause fatal crash

A North Carolina Highway Patrol trooper was hurt in an accident that left a woman dead in Rocky Mount.
March 13, 2012 4:34:50 PM PDT
While the North Carolina Highway Patrol admits an officer was speeding before a fatal crash in Rocky Mount, it says speed was not to blame.

According to an accident report released Monday, Trooper Arnold Sylvester Samuel was traveling at 53 miles per hour in a 45 miles per hour zone when he struck a vehicle driven by 59-year-old Maurilia Solis Leon.

Samuel was traveling north on Highway 301 in Rocky Mount last Tuesday evening when a 2002 Dodge Stratus, driven by Leon, pulled out in front of him from the parking lot of a Golden Corral restaurant.

Click here to read the report (.pdf)

The Highway Patrol also released dash cam video from the officer's car. It shows Leon's car moving slowly across several lanes seconds before the trooper's car hits it.

While the trooper was going eight miles over the speed limit, a spokesperson for the Patrol told ABC11 that speed did not cause the fatal wreck.

"Any time we have a speed of 53 in a 45, you know that is above the posted speed limit. However, I will say in this particular case here, the failing to yield was the contributing factor to this collision. If Ms. Leon would not, unfortunately, have not have pulled into the roadway and came almost to a complete stop, we would not even be talking about this today," offered First Sgt. Jeff Gordon.

Gordon said the video is powerful evidence showing that there was no room for Trooper Samuel to do anything to avoid the accident.

As ABC11 reported last week, the Patrol said two independent witnesses reported Samuel attempted to steer to the left to avoid a collision.

Trooper Samuel has not been charged with speeding. The Highway Patrol said its investigation is not over.

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