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Police: Motorcycle was doing 80 mph before fatal crash

Posted December 31, 2011
Updated January 1, 2012

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— The motorcycle in a crash that claimed the life of the rider on Glenwood Avenue Friday night was traveling an estimated 80 mph when the driver hit his brakes, according to a  police report released Sunday.

Officers who investigated the crash that killed Samuel Zachary Johnson, 24, of  220 Elizabeth St. in Chapel Hill said they found 114 feet of skid marks at the scene on westbound Glenwood Avenue between Triangle and Angus drives.

Police charged the driver of the car, Carolyn McCormick, 37, with a safe movement violation and misdemeanor death by motor vehicle. They estimated that her 1993 Chevrolet was going about 10 mph as she was pulling out of parking lot at 9016 Glenwood.

The accident happened about 10:30 p.m., police said.

Investigators said Johnson's 2002 Ducati hit the left rear corner of McCormick's vehicle hard enough to spin the car around so that it wound up facing east in the westbound lanes.

The motorcycle, police wrote "was approaching at a speed estimated near 80 mph. Vehicle 2 (Johnson) applied the brakes and left 114' of skid marks."


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  • not my real name Jan 3, 2012

    She's doing 10 and he's doing 80....how does SHE get charged with unsafe movement? This clearly was not her fault and if he wasn't doing 80 he could have stopped in time or avoided the wreck all together. You cant see someone on a bike at night going that fast!! It's a shame he lost his life over a fast bike.

  • mfarmer1 Jan 2, 2012


    the problem with that is, if he was going 35\40 IE the speed limit, she would not have pulled right out in front of him, and he could have slowed to prevent the accident (Failure to reduce speed).

  • anonemoose Jan 2, 2012

    I would have to see more info, but my guess is that any ambulance chaser could get this dropped or a not guilty verdict.

    I feel for the lady, it's hard enough knowing she was directly in a fatal collision, but now she has to pay to clear her name. Just because you can charge misd death by m/v without the approval of the DA doesn't always mean that you should.

  • vincentwilliam794 Jan 2, 2012

    Prayers to all the families. so sad, but one question, why was the motorcyle driver doing 80..

  • FragmentFour Jan 2, 2012

    Given the details described in the story so far, I hope GravyPig is right and that the charges against the woman will be dropped later on. There has to be some sort of distance limitation on the "do not pull out" rule, although I don't know what they are. If somebody is a mile away but still visible? 2000 feet? What?

  • ncdixie1 Jan 2, 2012

    The driver of the car is charged because she pulled out in front of someone. IMO (and obviously law enforcement) it was the drivers fault because she pulled out in front of someone. It's not ok to pull out in front of someone because you are in a hurry, on the phone or beating your children, wreckless disregard for others on the road. Wait your turn.
    I do not agree with you rescuefan.
    And further more if you can't judge distance at night maybe you shouldn't be driving at night.

  • ForTheLoveOf Jan 2, 2012

    I'm with the previous three comments. Why charge her for pulling out into traffic? It's hard to judge distances later at night, especially when observing a vehicle with only one headlight. If she looked and assumed she had plenty of time to pull out, or even pulled out in the right hand lane, that should give the other driver plenty of time to get out of the way...had he been going the speed limit. IMO, it was the motorcycle drivers fault for his own demise.

  • jamesonlopp Jan 2, 2012

    Rescuefan is correct. As an avid motorcycle ride, this wreck sounds like a classic SMIDSY (Sorry Mate, I Didn't See You) but due to the excessive speed of the Ducati rider, the woman in the car should not be expected to have reasonably anticipated their paths intersecting.

  • GravyPig Jan 2, 2012

    I'm with you Rescue. I'm sure she feels bad enough knowing she killed a man, but now she has a murder charge and her picture on display too. I guess they have to charge her with something. Who knows, the charges may end up being dropped later after more investigation can be completed.

  • abl3333 Jan 2, 2012

    I was thinking the same thing, recuefan! Just doesn't seem right. If he was going the speed limit he probably wouldn't have hit the BACK corner of her car. Sorry for both families.