Local News

Man Charged in Triple-Fatal Christmas Wreck

Posted January 5, 2007

— A driver involved in a Christmas Day wreck that killed three members of an Orange County family was charged Friday in connection with their deaths.

Billy Ray Bullock Jr., 35, of Raleigh, was charged with three counts of misdemeanor death by vehicle and was released from the Wake County Magistrate Office, authorities said.

Charles Burger Jr., his wife and their son were driving from Hillsborough to Wilson for the holiday when a westound Chevrolet Tahoe spun out of control on the U.S. Highway 64 Bypass near Wendell, crossed the center median and collided head-on with their passenger van.

Barbara Burger, 57, and Ivan Burger, 20, were pronounced dead at the scene. Charles Burger died Wednesday at WakeMed.

Bullock, the driver of the Tahoe, suffered minor injuries in the wreck. He issued a public apology to the Burger family this week, but said he doesn't remember the accident.

"I wasn't surprised I was charged," Bullock told WRAL Friday. "I knew I was going to get charged with something. I just didn't know what. I just had to wait and see. Then, the state troopers came to talk to me."

A cable guardrail in the median where the accident occurred was down because of an earlier accident, and authorities looked at that as a factor in the wreck. They also are looking at the road's drainage and other characteristics in the area because 40 wrecks have occurred within a half-mile of the site in the past 18 months.

North Carolina Highway Patrol troopers have determined that excessive speed was the primary factor in the wreck, however. The Highway Patrol’s accident reconstruction team is still investigating the case.

"The driver was driving too fast for the conditions, lost control of the vehicle and then crossed over the median," Lt. Everett Clendenin of the state Highway Patrol said. "The cables may have caught the driver — the vehicle — and stopped him, but we don't know that for sure. It goes back to driver error."

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  • jwitbltlwp Jan 13, 2007

    I think that Billy Ray needs to be held accountable for his actions. That's not to
    say that he's a bad person, it just means that he needs to face the facts. Nobody but
    Billy Ray decided how fast he would drive on Christmas day. And he chose to drive at a
    speed at which he could (obviously) not control his car. Its just that simple.

    I hope that the courts impose a fair sentance. Fair to me would mean:

    1. Loss of license for at least one year.
    2. AT LEAST 30 days (of the 120 allowed) in Jail.
    3. AT LEAST 240 hours of community service perhaps divided between:
    a. 80 hours at WakeMed's Critical Neuro waiting room b. 80 hours telling his story at drivers education classes c. 80 hours as a funeral home usher at head on car crash victim viewings

    It seems that would be very fair and reasonable.

    There's already been a huge tragedy. I hope the DA's office and the courts don't make another one by not imposing some real consequences to Billy Rays tragic choice to drive too f

  • myhabitswings Jan 7, 2007

    I feel very sorry for everyone that was effected by this tragedy. However reading some of these comments, make me wonder how many people truly thought before the typed. Me personally, have never received a ticket for anything. However that is not saying that I have never speeded. How many of you have went 5 - 10 miles over the speed limit for different reasons? The reasons always justified by you that it is okay this one time. How many have pulled out taking a chance because you were running late or frustrated with traffic. I am not saying everyone has but I am sure more have done at least one thing that if you truly thought about it. It was an unnecessary risk and stupid judgment that could have resulted in the same tragic event. The lose of someone innocent. I know I have came into a lot of close calls due to someone else's ignorance. So please just think about every scenario before placing judgment. One day we will all be judged when it truly counts.

  • Low Voltage Jan 6, 2007

    brotherskpr, go back to Alabama. You're a danger to everyone aroud you!

  • brotherskpr74 Jan 6, 2007

    10 violations in 20 years, that's 1 violation every 2 years. I wish my driving record was that good. And I've only been driving for 15 years and have twice as many violations. I guess I should stay off of the road. SO what's the point about someone's driving record? All accidents are some form of driver error. Some of you are turning a tragedy into a circus. I used to be proud to call myself a North Carolinian. Now I'd rather stick to Alabamanian. Let's get real people. Unless you witnessed this accident with the good eye God gave you, you don't know what happened and nobody involved can tell the story. So the only thing ya'all can go on is what the troopers and news have said. So let's grow up and rememer NOBODY wins in this situation. I pray that none of you are ever put in a sitatuion as this. My prayers go out to BOTH families. God Bless.

  • hazily55034 Jan 6, 2007

    Bullock's prior driving record was reported in the N&O:

    "Bullock has been convicted of at least 10 driving violations since 1989, according to state court records, including seven counts of speeding. He also was charged with reckless driving to endanger in 1989, but that charge was dismissed and he was found guilty of unsafe movement."
    The Winston-Salem Journal paper stated 10 speeding tickes:

    State court records indicate that Bullock been convicted of at least 10 driving violations since 1989.

  • TFH Jan 6, 2007

    First, we all know excessive speed kills! 10 speeding tickets! How can he even get insurance coverage? How can he even have a valid driver's license? Maybe we should charge and arrest a judge too? Calculate drainage? Now that is a real thinker for you! How about calculating excessive speed Einstein? He all of a sudden has a convenient blackout? I believe if he tries to prove he blacked out, wouldn't that disqualify him from driving legally in the future? Does he blackout right before he gets ticketed 10 times? Now that would be like, an excessive and lengthy, maybe Guiness Book of World Record blackouts? Someone call Guiness now! Calculate this: excessive speed + wet conditions + a road known for accidents + large SUV = 3 tragic innocent deaths. The charge for this is a misdemeanor. That cannot be too excessive, maybe unfortunate at best, for the man whom has to live with accidently killing 3 people. Now, the question is should he retain a valid driver's license or get a scooter?

  • diwanicki Jan 5, 2007

    Did I miss something? Someone said he had 10 tickets, I haven't heard anything about that. Yes you should slow down when its rainning and you should turn your headlights on!! There are so many people that don't do either one.My prayers go out to both families. And by the way, sometimes when you blackout, you can actually put pressure on things. So that can go both ways.

  • narck9 Jan 5, 2007

    Mr. bhurrelbrink. The state is not to blame for the wreck. Mr. Bullock was "driving too fast for conditions" according to the wreck investigation. Mr. Bullock also has 10 prior speeding tickets. This is way above normal. Lets all face facts. While Mr. Bullock may very well be a great guy, he was charged appropriately for the wreck. I hope the family of the victims recover and Mr. Bullock will remember that driving is not a game.

  • brooksdewire Jan 5, 2007

    Things happen too fast.

    Charlie Burger, his wife and son are dead.

    As a collegue of Charlie's this hits home. It has me reminding my teenage daughter/driver that things happen way too fast. I am lucky so far.

    If people drive recklessly and others pay the consequences there is a problem.

    People drive way too fast. Stop pointing fingers at NCDOT or the police, because they wouldn't have more than they can handle if people would get with the program. It's everyone's problem. It's your issue. Slow down.

    Things happen way too fast.

    May grace be with all of the families involved, especially Charlie's remaining children.

  • superman Jan 5, 2007

    I agree if Tahoe hadnt made the vehicle and he wasnt able to drive and if he had been confined to a wheel chair-- none of thise would have happened. The blame should be spread equally to everyone-- even the driver of the vehicle -- might want to share in some of the respondibility.