Local News

Driver in Vance wreck that killed toddler expected to be charged

Posted July 22, 2012

— North Carolina Highway Patrol officials were still working on Sunday to determine what charges will be filed in a Vance County head-on crash that killed an 18-month-old girl Friday night. 

Troopers said a 2007 Dodge Charger driven by Ira Evans crossed the center line of U.S. Highway 1 in Middleburg around 10:30 p.m. and struck a 1995 Mercedes Benz carrying Derrick Burchette and his daughter, Jaleah Griffin. 

Both vehicles ran off the road, and the Mercedes overturned, trapping the toddler in a car seat. 

Griffin died of her injuries at the hospital. Burchette, of Warrent, was treated for serious injuries at Duke University Hospital and released on Sunday. 

An eyewitness who helped Burchette following the wreck said he kept asking people to check on his daughter after he crawled out of the mangled Mercedes Benz. 

"This has been on my mind since Friday," the eyewitness, who did not give WRAL her name, said on Sunday. "I prayed when I went to church. I haven't been able to sleep since. I've had this baby on my mind the whole time."

Evans, of Henderson, underwent surgery at Duke Hospital, but an update on his condition was not available Sunday evening. Troopers said they planned to charge Evans, who they believe was drinking, once their investigation is complete.


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  • Mon Account Jul 24, 2012

    There are too many alternatives to drinking and then driving. Safe Ride Home, etc., are great (I don't work for any, nor do my friend- just a happy customer). My bf and I went downtown, had several delicious beverages while hanging out with great friends. When 1:30a hit our driver showed up and drove our car to our house (11 miles/20 minutes away) with us comfortably in it... and his ride followed him. Ended up being cheaper than a cab, and our car was in the garage in the morning. And the only wreck that came up was my headache in the morning! (actually I didn't have one- top shelf vodka is a wonderful thing).

  • jjsmith1973 Jul 23, 2012

    money from it and not preventing it. Something as simple as zoning laws for establisments that serve alcohol would curve this from ever happening. An offier at a bar parking lot when it closes is more effective from curving alcohol related issues than one hiding down the street waiting to see who they can catch. In that case he gets on out of maybe 50 vs. siting in the parking lot and preventing 49 people from driving at all. Making the owners recieve fines for over serving or too many problems resulting from over serving. The reality is all those places open in Raliegh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the state don't want anyone to have just two and leave. Although, they also don't care how people get there or home. As long as they make money that is fine. Then they can pander votes when they get "tough" on DWI. As they pass another ABC law that makes it easier to serve more and more bars out in rual areas. Tell me those people really care? I think not

  • jjsmith1973 Jul 23, 2012

    @rocknhorse, I disagree that punishment is a prevention. Punishment is post active. It is proven not to work. Also if that is the case I want stiffer laws against speeding and texting. I want them to mirror DWI laws. Just as dangerous and there is absolutly no impairment at all when making that choice in a car. Problem is, is everyone does those two crimes so no one would be ok with that. Lobbiest have spent lots of money on DWI laws and even the founder of MADD which left the group has said they are out of control now. If they put have the effort into prevention instead of punishment then they would get further. It has got to the point punishment for DWI with no injure, no accident, no unsafe driving, found at a check point at the old B.A.C limits before the government force the states to change to .08 is worst punishment than domestic violance, armed robber, petty theft, attempted assult with a deadly weapon. That is why I'm for zero tolerance. The state enjoys making its

  • Rocknhorse Jul 23, 2012

    jjsmith - I agree with you that prevention is the BEST answer. But part of prevention is making it unappealing and often that will only occur if the punishment for drinking and driving is more severe. I agree with you 100% in zero tollerance. I have nothing against a good drink and I enjoy mine on occassion. But I do NOT have any if I'm driving. Out with friends, my husband or I will choose to not drink so we are ok to drive home. Out to dinner, if I'm driving, no drink. THAT is the example I set for my kids. I do not feel any amount is safe if I'm driving.

  • jjsmith1973 Jul 23, 2012

    @quetwitty, Also please don't let my opinion of the law reflect my sympothies to your lost family member. I would prefer prevention over punishment so it doesn't happen. That is why I get so passionate about the topic. We have enough advocation for harsher laws on the topic. Although prevention would help decrease the need for harsher laws. I would like someone to finally make the limit .000 because I see to many that have to guess what they are. Although there is no good way to know. Beer contains higher acohol content. Less beer equals higher B.A.C and people don't think about that. I think if you make the law less of a guessing game there would be less problems. Also, I do think if the person is a high B.A.C. there should be a fine on the establishment. I have seen people fall going to the bar to order another drink and they serve it right up. I would like to see bars not being allowed in areas where people have to drive home and to.

  • kevinmedlin4 Jul 23, 2012

    my heart and prayers go out to the familys

  • jjsmith1973 Jul 23, 2012

    @quetwitty, I think that was a very well put statement.

  • jjsmith1973 Jul 23, 2012

    Also for that matter. What happens if they find out that is wasn't the person that was suspected of drinking that crossed the center line. What if it ends up being the car with the toddler. What if that person was speeding as well? Not to mention what if the persons B.A.C if been drinking is below the legal limit? I would rather see a true conversation about prevention not punishment. How about a zero tolerance law, no one has to guess if they are ok. They no they get in the car they are breaking the law. How about no more bars with huge parking lots located in the middle of now where? How about requiring as part of a liquor license if you are x number of miles from a residential area you must provide a shuttle or taxi service? How about closing down places that have to many problems over serving, DWI, D&D? Take there license away, like they do in my home state. Wait they won't do that because the state makes money of the alcohol sales

  • quetwitty Jul 23, 2012

    Paulej, I see your point and to answer if a person knows if they're drunk or not, I have to say the first time you take a sip of any form of alcohol, you were with in your right mind. It starts with that first sip if you ask me. People with DUI's don't realize they have a problem until after something as devastating as this happens, then they want to check themselves in rehab. I say that you owe it to yourself and others to be more responsible, for example, if you are hanging out with friends or you go somewhere by yourself, then that right there should say "Hum maybe I shouldn't drink since I don't have anyone to take me home!" Middleburg is not a place where taxi cabs roam freely, so you have to take in consideration your surroundings. The person actually killed is related to a first cousin of mine. So we knew of them. My heart goes out to his family. It's hard loosing loved ones, but it's even harder loosing to a tragic accident.

  • jjsmith1973 Jul 23, 2012

    Just remember to all that want murder 1. I think that should be the charge regardless if you think that is how it should be if you speed and kill someone, or text and kill some. Actually, I think it is worst because you aren't impaired when you make that decision to speed or text and kill someone, add to that not using you turn signal or changing the radio. You want to talk about a law not being harsh enough. Speeding and texting while driving laws should be charged just the same as DWI. They cause more deaths then DWI. Although, I don't agree given the definition of murder 1