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Trooper finds car, body down I-40 embankment

Posted August 21, 2009

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— A state Highway Patrol trooper investigating some downed traffic signs near where Interstate 40 and Interstate 85 merge in Orange County found a car with a body inside at the bottom of a ravine, authorities said Friday.

Trooper Pam Williams Gut instinct leads trooper to wreck

Trooper Pam Williams said she had notified the state Department of Transportation about three signs knocked down near Exit 259 off westbound I-40, but went back to investigate Thursday when DOT engineers said they knew nothing about it.

"I thought maybe there had been a bad wreck, and (the signs) hadn't been replaced just yet," Williams said.

She said she noticed a shimmer of silver in a ravine off the side of the highway, and when she went down into the ravine to check it out, she found an overturned car with a man's body inside.

"It was very shocking to find that vehicle with a body inside," she said.

The man was identified as Antonio Terrell Covington, 28, of Raleigh. His family reported him missing on Aug. 10, four days after last speaking with him on the phone, authorities said.

Williams said it appears Covington died in the wreck, but a medical examiner plans to perform an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Authorities said they don't know how long the car was at the bottom of the ravine. There were no skid marks on the highway to indicate an accident, and grass was already growing over the marks left on the embankment where the car went off the road, Williams said.

"I wanted to make sure, to clear my own conscience – that's what we do – so I came out here and found the vehicle," she said.


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  • leo-nc Aug 21, 2009

    "An ambulance always takes the bodies"-----

    In my county, this is not the case and it's getting that way in more places around the state. Instead of using that resource to transport a body, they use a private contracting company to do it. They will either bring a herse or a van to transport the body instead. That way, the ambulance can take priority calls without being tied up. So what you see is normal even for a fatality that may have just occurred.

  • leo-nc Aug 21, 2009

    "No skid marks means he had a medical emergency, fell asleep, or was under the influence."---

    oh really? Care to expand upon that? I've got about 400 wreck reports sitting in my file cabinet that would disprove that statement ;)

  • itsmyownopinion Aug 21, 2009

    Condolences to the Covington family and high praise to Trooper Pam Williams for a job well done. That particular little stretch of road is one I despise driving. Surely Covington's car must have left the road when there was almost no traffic. I would hate to think anyone saw it happen and didn't call it in.

  • mpheels Aug 21, 2009

    landshark, it's not that the DOT never repaired the signs. The way I understand it, the damage was such that she assumed it had been a serious accident so the DOT would know about it. The lack of DOT knowledge tipped her off that something was wrong so she went back to investigate further.

  • nandud Aug 21, 2009

    God bless the trooper who went and investigated. I'm sure it was not easy for her to see this poor man who had passed.

    Prayers to the family for some closure.

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Aug 21, 2009

    No skid marks means he had a medical emergency, fell asleep, or was under the influence.

    Rev. RB, I didn't expect to hear you question the Trooper or the DOT. But the fact I didn't expect that from you is a round-about compliment.

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Aug 21, 2009

    Rev. RB, I'm shocked. I was reading these posts and wondering who would be the first to question whether the DOT or the Police were doing there job, since he might have been there for a week or two. I was shocked you were first.

  • Dalphine Aug 21, 2009

    This is a sad story. I am glad that the officer went the extra mile and investigated the situation. I know this family appreciate her efforts even in death because now the family has closure. Until you locate the body, you have no peace. To the family, I am praying for your strength and take it one day at a time. I lost a son in 2008 and I think about him everyday. My God grant you peace.

  • Professor Aug 21, 2009

    The DOT never went out to repair the signs!

    The DOT's of NC is doing a wonderful job of keeping up our roads. You out there could not do not job and would not be able to stand the heat. So quit the negative about DOT. They had nothing to do with the wreck.

  • christiespencer Aug 21, 2009

    Very sad! My prayers are with the family.