The sound of the impact reached resident Jeff Brooks, inside his house.
"And all of a sudden, I heard something go 'boom!' I went outside, and I saw the car was on the side of the road." Brooks said. "But when I got to my front porch and I saw the other vehicles coming down, that's when I saw that the sheriff's car was in the tree."
He says he did not know the Vance County deputy that was behind the wheel.
Police say they believed that Deputy Coker was attempting to intercept a vehicle that had been described over his police radio as a reckless driver.
A local business owner describes Deputy Coker as a very conscientious lawman, who would often stop by his business at night to make sure the clerks he had working at that time felt safe and secure.
Vance County Sheriff Peter White calls Deputy Coker "a fine young officer who will be missed by all who knew him."
Coker was married, with no children. He joined the force in January 2007.