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Highway Patrol Recreates Fatal Accident Involving Deputy

Posted January 2, 2008

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— A Franklin County sheriff's deputy remains on paid leave pending the outcome of a Highway Patrol investigation into a fatal accident that killed a pedestrian.

Accident investigators on Wednesday reconstructed how Marcus Coppedge, 23, was struck and killed by Deputy Crystal Mitchell on News Year's Eve.

Family members, who said Coppedge was crossing N.C. Highway 39 to go to a convenience store in Ingleside, said they believe Mitchell was speeding in the 45 mph zone. The Highway Patrol said its investigation could take up to a month.

Mitchell had no comment, referring all questions to Franklin County Sheriff Pat Green.

"I'm deeply sorry that this happened," he said. "The deputy is deeply sorry. She's very upset and hurt."

Green said Mitchell, a three-year veteran of the force, told him she was distracted by a group of young men gathered in front on the 4 Stars Grocery.

Witness Abdul Ali said the accident happened in what seemed to be an instant.

"If I was the sheriff, I couldn't even recognize somebody running this fast," he said.

Meanwhile Wednesday, family members, including Coppedge's mother who witnessed the accident, continued to grieve.

"She put him in her arms, and she told him, 'Marcus, don't leave me. Marcus, don't leave me,'" the victim's aunt, Daphine Coppedge, said. "She said his eyes went back up inside his head, and she knew he was dead."

A wake for Coppedge is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at Richardson Funeral Home in Louisburg. His funeral is 3 p.m. Saturday at Louisburg High School.

22 Comments

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  • SouthernBornSouthernBred Jan 3, 2008

    Was he wearing dark clothes or did he have any bright colors on so he could be seen....or he should have atleast smiled running across the street.

  • Panther Jan 3, 2008

    Tragedy all the way around in this case. There are clearly no winners.

  • CSMs Alter Ego Jan 3, 2008

    "I seem to recall from my Driver's Ed training, which was quite a while ago, that the pedestrian always had right away....am I wrong?"

    Pedestrians have the right of way at marked crosswalks, intersections without crosswalks and crosswalks with the stop and go signs. All other times they must yield to cars.

  • lizard Jan 3, 2008

    lightfoot - depends on the sight distance in that location and lighting. Probably gonna be a call the DA has to make.

    kewlmom - pedestrian only has the right of way in a marked crosswalk and only when they are not crossing against a signal for them.

    For a pedestrain to insist on the right of way is like a car insisting on the right of way at a train crossing. It's never a good idea.

  • Lightfoot3 Jan 3, 2008

    She should be treated like any other person that becomes distracted while driving and has an accident. If he darted out in front of her, then she wouldn’t be at fault. But it seems she’s already admitted to being distracted, thus wasn’t paying full attention to her driving. If we did that, I’m pretty sure we’d be charged.

  • gamsauer Jan 3, 2008

    Was there really a need to include this in the article:

    "She put him in her arms, and she told him, 'Marcus, don't leave me. Marcus, don't leave me,'" the victim's aunt, Daphine Coppedge, said. "She said his eyes went back up inside his head, and she knew he was dead."

    I really hate the media sometimes.

  • kewlmom Jan 3, 2008

    I seem to recall from my Driver's Ed training, which was quite a while ago, that the pedestrian always had right away....am I wrong? That does not absolve the pedestrian of the responsibility of checking before stepping out in the street. I'm not passing judgement on this one until all the facts are known...

  • sixpointedbadge Jan 3, 2008

    we do not have all the info on the accident that involved two people that were not paying attention to what they were doing. if it is true that she (officer) had been on her cell phone it would be hard to prove unless someone had actually seen her.

  • 68_polara Jan 3, 2008

    First of all let's let the investigation determine if she was speeding. Second whether someone is speeding in a situation like this is irrelevant, if as the witnesses claim, the person ran out in to the road. Speeding or not, your not going to avoid someone if they run right out in front of you. Sounds like the family is preparing for a law suit.

  • letskeeppeace Jan 3, 2008

    What happen to looking both ways before crossing the street?
    Of course everyone is ready to blame to officer, lawsuit right?
    Unfortunate and sad for the family.
    The sheriff of Franklin County seems like an upstanding, honest
    person who stepped right up to the plate to help the family with funeral expenses and help his deputy.
    Many prayers to all involved!

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