A hit-and-run driver injured two people and killed a horse in an accident near Cherryville on Sunday, January 30, 2011.
James Cody Burke, age 24, of Cherryville, and Carlee Jones, 22, of Gastonia, were the victims of the crash. Both were transported to Cleveland Medical Center in Shelby, according to this report by the Gaston Gazette.
They were then airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, where both were in intensive care with head injuries and listed in fair condition Monday afternoon, according to the Shelby Star.
The incident took place at 1:43 a.m. on Hepzibah Church Road, near the intersection with Whitesides Road. Burke and Jones had ridden the horse to the Wal-Mart in Cherryville. They were returning and stopped in the road to talk to a friend, according to N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper Frank O’Dell.
A vehicle driving east struck the horse. Burke and Jones were thrown to the pavement. The vehicle also swiped the back left side of the friend’s car.
When paramedics with Gaston Emergency Medical Services arrived, Burke and Jones were lying in the road. The Gaston County Police Department also responded to the scene.
Burke couldn’t give any details about what had happened due to his receiving medical attention, and Jones was too distraught to speak.
“She was pretty upset because of the horse being deceased,” O’Dell said.
Witnesses said the other vehicle was going very fast, said O’Dell, who described the road as being “really curvy.”
The hit-and-driver’s automobile was described as a “smaller” vehicle. Pieces of the car were found at the scene and may help identify the driver.
Hit-and-run accidents are almost always an ugly business. Simple panic is one of the first reasons a driver runs from a crash. But other factors can play in and build on that panic and desire to flee. These are a few:
- A bad driving record.
- A suspended or revoked license.
- A criminal record.
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance.
- The knowledge of the driver that he or she was at fault and driving recklessly, or while distracted, or simply too fast.
It is impossible to know the facts at this point, but this wreck has suspicious factors. The wreck occurred at about quarter till two in the morning, prime time for impaired driving, as well as drowsy driving. Witnesses saw the vehicle driving at high speed before the crash, and speeding to make a fast getaway. And with probable severe damage to the car, the driver fled anyway. His or her desperation to get away was such that the driver sideswiped a car while driving off – a rash decision that would be typical of something done under the influence of alcohol.
Mr. Burke and Ms. Jones have suffered serious injury and a severe trauma because of this driver, along with the loss of a beloved animal. We hope that they will be compensated fairly for their ordeal.