Moore County interim manager killed in wreck
Posted November 28, 2012
Updated December 11, 2012
Vass, N.C. — A man killed Tuesday afternoon when, authorities say, he drove his vehicle into a tractor-trailer near Vass was the interim county manager for Moore County.
Moore County Board of Commissioners Chairman Larry Caddell said Wednesday that James Westbrook Jr., 69, had been on the job for two days and was on his way home from work.
The two had spoken on the phone about 20 minutes before the wreck, Caddell said, about a meeting that had been scheduled for Wednesday morning.
Caddell said he learned about the wreck a few hours later.
"We couldn't believe it," he said. "I can't tell you how much we're going to miss him – and such a devastation for the (Westbrook) family."
The North Carolina State Highway Patrol is still investigating the crash.
Troopers said Wednesday that Westbrook was driving a Chevrolet passenger car and crashed into the side of a tractor-trailer carrying logs around 5:30 p.m. The tractor-trailer was pulling out of a private driveway on Vass-Carthage Road, about 2 miles west of Vass.
Neither the truck driver nor his passenger was injured.
Westbrook's family members on Wednesday did not want to talk about what happened, but Caddell said the family has seen its share of auto-related tragedies in recent years.
Westbrook's son suffered severe head injuries after a car crash in Columbia, S.C., and, in January, 2011, his daughter was killed in Washington D.C., when her car spontaneously burst into flames.
Westbrook served in a number of roles part-time in Moore County government since 2007, including public works director, human resources director, public safety director and assistant county manager.
He was also town manager of Cary from 1988 to 1995, city manager in Asheville and interim assistant manager in Fayetteville.
He was recently appointed interim county manager to replace Cary McSwain, who retires Friday.
The Board of Commissioners named county Tax Administrator Wayne Vest as its new interim manager.