Rocky Mount, N.C. — A suspected drunk driver involved in a head-on collision that killed a Nash County woman and her young son has been charged in connection with their deaths, according to the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.
Stacey Lee Deans, 26, was charged Tuesday with two counts of felony death by motor vehicle in the wreck that killed Lashunaqua "Cocoa" Cooper, 21, and Jiquel Copeland, 3. He was placed in the Nash County jail under a $20,000 bond and is due in court Thursday morning.
Troopers said Deans, who is in the military and recently returned from deployment overseas, was driving on South Church Street around 9:30 p.m. Monday when he crossed the center line, about a half-mile from Cooley Road between Rocky Mount and Sharpsburg, and struck Cooper's car.
Cooper and the child died instantly, troopers said.
"I heard the impact," said Larry Wilcox, who lives across the street from the crash. "There wasn't any tires sliding before that, just the impact – loud, hard."
Jiquel was in a safety seat, but it was not properly installed, and he was ejected from the car, troopers said. Cooper was wearing a seat belt.
"I went over to the car and shouted out, (but) didn't get any response," Wilcox said. "As bad as it was tore up, I didn't want to look real hard. At that time, the child was in front of the car."
Deans and his twin brother, Tracey Deans, who was a passenger in the truck, were treated for minor injuries at Nash General Hospital and released.
Troopers said they found beer cans in Stacey Deans' truck and believe alcohol was a factor in the wreck.
"If you're going to drink, stay at home," said family friend Katisha Lynch. "Don't get behind the wheel because there are people's lives you are putting in danger."
Lynch visited the wreck site Tuesday afternoon.
"I just started crying," she said. "It was just so sad. It's a heartbreaking story."
At Andy's Restaurant in Sharpsburg, where Cooper used to work, her co-workers remembered her smile.
"She always had a smile on her face," said David Brown, Cooper's former boss.