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Driver charged in February wreck

Posted September 12, 2011

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— Raleigh police charged a woman Monday with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle in connection with a chain-reaction crash that happened Feb. 23 on Interstate 40.

Debbie Gisele-Marie Stewart, 40, of 3319 Grady Lane in Durham, is the only person to face criminal charges in the wreck, which sent nine people to the hospital and left one dead.

Raleigh Police Department spokesman Jim Sughrue said it appeared that Amelia Hernandez-Garcia, 34, had mechanical problems with her vehicle and stopped in the center lane of I-40 West near Trailwood Drive. She got out of her car to seek help and was ultimately hit and killed, according to the police report on the wreck.

Crash investigators found that a third driver, Bobby Lee Williams, 47, of Apex, stopped his car to help Hernandez-Garcia, and Stewart hit his car and pushed it into Hernandez-Garcia. She died at the scene.

Another vehicle hit the pile-up from behind, but that driver was not charged.

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  • JustOneGodLessThanU Sep 15, 2011

    Thanks, fayncmike & thinkinoutloud for the info. I totally agree. #1 priority is to get your failing car off the road if possible.

  • fayncmike Sep 14, 2011

    "Here is the link to the state Statute that prohibits stopping in the roadway. Obviously there is a provision for when the vehicle is disabled. It is NCGS 20-161

    http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/gascripts/statutes/statutelookup.pl?statute=20-161
    thinkin out loud"

    Thanks for the link. It's hard to believe anyone would think otherwise. It's the most basic behavior and common sense should dictate it.

  • thinkin out loud Sep 13, 2011

    Here is the link to the state Statute that prohibits stopping in the roadway. Obviously there is a provision for when the vehicle is disabled. It is NCGS 20-161

    http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/gascripts/statutes/statutelookup.pl?statute=20-161

  • fayncmike Sep 13, 2011

    "I totally agree on both points. It's possible for a car to breakdown so badly and suddenly that there's no way to get to off the road. (e.g. broken axle that impales the asphalt, anti-lock computer fails and all brakes lock)"

    If you care to reread my statement (below) you will see that I said "make every effort to get your vehicle off the roadway." I understand that there are times when that's not possible.

    Of course if you're having car problems the FIRST and MOST IMPORTANT thing to do is make every effort to get your vehicle off the roadway.

  • Rockermom Sep 13, 2011

    Sheablue, if that information is accurate, I thank you for sharing. After I read the story, I could not for the life of me figure out how she was charged. The story read as if she was in her lane and ran up on it without any warning whatsoever, which made me think that she must have been distracted somehow not to see that traffic had slowed/stopped. I understand the charge now. She should be held responsible.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Sep 13, 2011

    right charges for this, but, the car that rearend all of them and not charge is wrong, "failure to reduce speed to avoild an accident" should apply. -- Rebelyell55

    I totally agree on both points. It's possible for a car to breakdown so badly and suddenly that there's no way to get to off the road. (e.g. broken axle that impales the asphalt, anti-lock computer fails and all brakes lock)

    Drivers need to pay attention...stop reading, shaving, caring for their baby, etc.

  • timbo10.0 Sep 13, 2011

    "The driver of the Mini Cooper accelerated around me and two other vehicles. She slammed straight into the back of the SUV. She never hit her brakes. "

    Sounds like she didn't see around you, switched lanes to get around you and then hit the car.

  • sheablue22 Sep 13, 2011

    I personally witnessed that awful accident in late February. The driver that has been charged was driving a red Mini Cooper very fast and very irratically. I saw the flashing lights from the stalled vehicles and slowed down. The driver of the Mini Cooper accelerated around me and two other vehicles. She slammed straight into the back of the SUV. She never hit her brakes. I remember thinking at the time that she must've died because of the force at which she hit the SUV. As it turns out, she was spared with minor injuries. I was traveling about 70 MPH just before the Gorman Street Exit, and the Mini Cooper went by myself and the other two vehicles in a blur instead of slowing with the other traffic. It was not a pretty scene at all. I do understand why she was charged. Alot of us stopped to help because we saw it as it occurred. I'm sure the officers took statements during the course of that investigation. Praying for all the families involved.

  • SaltyOldJarhead Sep 13, 2011

    "Better to stop in traffic." -bowslinger70

    The lady who did that would probably disagree with you if she were still alive to do so. And let the magistrate you talked to know that he's a complete stoop.

  • fayncmike Sep 13, 2011

    "Hey fayncmike. There IS a statute that prohibits the stopping of a car in a lane of travel and if you cause traffic to back up you can be charged with impeding traffic also. I will try to find that statute and post a link for the doubters.
    thinkin out loud"

    there has to be; common sense dictates it. It's ludicrous to think otherwise.

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