Vigil held in Harnett County to remember Minnesota couple killed during deputy's pursuit

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Wednesday, March 15, 2023
Vigil held for couple killed in Harnett County crash
Vigil held for couple killed in Harnett County crash

Sarah Pitkin called for justice, accountability, and transparency from the Harnett County Sheriff's Office following the death of Brian and Patricia Finch, a couple from Minnesota, who were in town visiting friends.

The couple was killed March 3rd at this intersection of Highway 210 and Ray Road near Spring Lake when a Harnett County sheriff deputy slammed into their truck while on a vehicle chase of another driver. That driver got away.

The deputy involved was identified at K. Letarte. He was hurt in the crash but has been released from the hospital.

Letarte is on administrative leave while an internal investigation plays out to determine if he followed the Harnett County Sheriff's Office chase protocol.

Pitkin believes he didn't.

"It could have been any of us. It didn't have to happen. They could still be with us," said Pitkin.

She supports families who have been impacted by the Harnett County Sheriff's Office.

"All he had to do is slow down for five seconds instead of just looking at a speeding ticket," Pitkin continued

She shared her concerns with a small group of people from Harnett County Tuesday night during a vigil for Brian and Patricia Finch.

Those who attended the vigil, like Junice Scurgill believe the deputy didn't follow protocol and their deaths were preventable.

RELATED | Police pursuit policies under scrutiny after deadly Harnett County crash involving deputy

"My husband is a paramedic. Every police officer, and every paramedic when they come to an intersection, they slowed down until they can safely make it through. From what I have seen on the videos. That officer didn't slow down," said Scurgill.

She owns a shop not too far from where the crash happened on Highway 210 and Ray Road. "So in my opinion, the officer was at fault. And that's sad because he's supposed to protect and serve," Scurgill continued.

ABC11 Eyewitness News reached out to the North Carolina Highway Patrol, the lead agency in this crash investigation, to learn more about the circumstances surrounding the wreck, including the speed of the deputy and if there will be charges.

A representative with the state highway patrol said the accident report has not been completed as of March 15th. The investigation is continuing and the requested details should become available in the near future.

But the community is seeking the same answers, including Linda Sundermab who was impacted by the death of Brian and Patricia Finch, people she didn't know.

"To think we sat right here in the same spot, having a nice happy day, and how that could happen to any of us. You're just doing life and it was so unnecessary. There was just no need," said Sunderman.

She joined the calls for accountability for the deputy involved in the crash. "Justice means somebody being held responsible for their actions in what happened. It's just touched us. Breaks my heart."

The Harnett County Sheriff's Office said Tuesday that it is conducting an internal investigation into the crash involving a deputy that led to death of 2 people.

SEE ALSO | Identities released of two killed in collision with Harnett County deputy during chase

A 65-year-old man, 64-year-old woman were killed after colliding with a Harnett County deputy who was pursuing another vehicle.