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Woman charged in fatal gas station accident appears in court

Posted September 14, 2009

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— A Fuquay-Varina woman wept in court Monday during her initial appearance on charges that she backed over a woman with her minivan at a gas station and killed her.

Amanda Bailey Culross, 30, is charged with second-degree murder, driving while impaired, child abuse and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The latter two charges stem from the fact that her three daughters, ages 4 to 8, were in the minivan at the time of the accident.

Amanda Culross in court Woman faces charges in fatal Hess accident

The incident occurred at the Hess gas station at the intersection of N.C. Highway 27 and N.C. Highway 55 in Coats at about 3:30 p.m. Friday, authorities said.

Jo Ann Bacon, 75, a retired teacher who spent 40 years in area schools, was crossing the parking lot to pay for gas when Culross' minivan hit her, police said.

Culross "had a strong odor of alcohol" and was given a blood test, according to a police report. The results aren't yet available.

"At this point in time, we stand behind that 100 percent. We do believe alcohol was involved," Coats Police Chief Eddie Jaggers said.

Authorities said charging someone with second-degree murder in a DWI crash is a question of malice. They consider factors like if a suspect has a prior DWI conviction, ran from police, left the scene or was driving in an extremely reckless fashion.

Culross was found guilty of DWI and failure to reduce speed in Wake County last year, according to court documents. She is appealing that decision.

Jaggers, who was the first officer to respond to the incident, said Culross was trying to give Bacon first aid when he arrived at the scene.

"She was upset, of course. It was a tragic accident," he said.

A woman who identified herself at Culross' mother agreed with that assessment Monday and said the incident wasn't a crime.

"We are all heartbroken over this. We know that there's a family that was just crushed by this accident, and we're so sorry," said the woman, who declined to give her name. "There's nothing we can do now but wait for the evidence to come back that she wasn't drinking with her children."

During a brief court hearing Monday, a judge appointed a lawyer for Culross and set another hearing in two weeks. She declined to comment after the hearing.

"It was an accident," said her father, Rick Culross. "We grieve, but we are grieving for the victim's family."

The three young girls remain in Amanda Culross' custody. She was released from jail Saturday on a $101,000 bond.

63 Comments

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  • WLDPIG Sep 15, 2009

    SOLUTION, JUST DON'T DRINK PERIOD

  • jnb1983 Sep 15, 2009

    I stop at that station all the time, its at the church we attend. Ms. Bacon did NOTHING WRONG! You are taught to look before you back up. Her mind should have been on drivimg and not whatever else it was on. I pray for this woman and don't wish harm to her, but SOMETHING has got to be done to get drunk drivers to STOP getting behind the wheel and killing!

  • TechRescue Sep 15, 2009

    4 years ago, my daughter's roommate and two friends were hit head-on and killed by a drunk driver near Sanford. He got 48 months in prison for killing three stellar young people with their whole life in front of them - nowhere near enough time.

    Until the courts make it clear that drinking and driving is not an option, we will continue this senseless loss. One DUI conviction should mean that you blow into a breath analyser every time you start your car for the rest of your life.

  • Caroline Marie Sep 15, 2009

    Well, I see they updated the story. Yesterday, it was just DWI, now it is a "strong odor of alcohol" and they believe alcohol was involved. I agree the doctor should be charged with murder also. I wonder if he has had any complaints filed about him in the past as far as his practice is concerned.

  • doglover11 Sep 15, 2009

    Driving drunk in the afternoon with small kids of her own in the car with her...then she backs over an innocent victim and kills her??? I don't know what kind of punishment she deserves for being so careless, wreckless and thoughtless. What a piece of work.

  • Daisygirlforever Sep 14, 2009

    commonsense....I agree completely!!!! She had a prior incident she is appealing...Oi Vey!

  • Eduardo1 Sep 14, 2009

    crying in her beer! Jail-jail-jail. Sure her parents probably had there own alcohol problems, or they taught their children the wrong message

  • irishale Sep 14, 2009

    "contributing to the delinquency of a minor."

    Strange, no mention of what the children did wrong. No mention of her giving them alcohol. Not that I'm nit-picking here, but how exactly were the children delinquent? The mom was delinquent.... unless they're just throwing everything at the woman they can....not like they need to.

    Don't get me wrong, this is a terrible thing, and this woman sounds like a real menace, I just get frustrated with prosecutors/DA's coming up w/ asinine charges that don't apply, which will have to be dealt with via time/money at some point.

  • seankelly15 Sep 14, 2009

    commonsence[sic] - She has been charged with these offenses, not found guilty of these offenses. Second degree murder - this DA must be running for office. The other two charges are misdemeanors. Bail was set at $101,000; quite excessive for what is essentially a motor vehicle accident.

  • time4real Sep 14, 2009

    there ain't much you can say to this one, but DDDDDDDANG............

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