Tarboro officer killed in crash with NCDOT truck
Posted April 15, 2014
Updated April 16, 2014
Tarboro, N.C. — An off-duty Tarboro police officer died Tuesday morning when his vehicle collided with a state Department of Transportation excavator, authorities said.
Officer Charles Bryce Johnson, 46, was westbound on N.C. Highway 111 at about 8:50 a.m. when an eastbound DOT truck crossed the center line and collided head-on with Johnson's Honda Odyssey near Sara Lee Road, according to Trooper Charles Pervis of the State Highway Patrol.
Johnson, a 24-year veteran of the Tarboro Police Department, was pronounced dead at the scene.
"It's very difficult to get this kind of news. A lot of the men and women here have worked with Charles for over 24 years, so it's hard to lose someone that you've known that long to such a tragic event," Police Chief Damon Williams said.
Other Tarboro officers are so grief-stricken over the death of the man they affectionately called "Robocop" because of his lanky frame and orderly manner that Edgecombe County deputies will handle all patrols in the town for at least the next day, Williams said.
William Allen Harrell II, 29, of Macclesfield, the driver of the DOT truck was shaken but wasn't injured, DOT officials said. He had driven out of a nearby DOT maintenance yard shortly before the wreck.
Charges are pending against Harrell, Pervis said, although the crash remains under investigation.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the driver who died in this tragic accident and with our employee who was involved," Transportation Secretary Tony Tata said in a statement. "Safety is always the No. 1 priority in everything we do. Our team will work closely with law enforcement to investigate and thoroughly review all of our safety procedures to understand how this happened and what steps we can take to prevent something like this from happening again."
Johnson is survived by a wife and two sons.
Visitation will be from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Friday at Edgecombe Community College's Keihin Auditorium. The funeral service will begin at 3 p.m., with burial immediately following at Edgecombe Memorial Park.
In lieu of flowers, a trust fund for Johnson's family has been setup at Providence Bank, 325 N. Main St. (PO Box 339) Tarboro, NC.