Roseboro man charged with DWI in child's hit-and-run death
Posted April 23, 2013
Updated April 25, 2013
Harrells, N.C. — A Sampson County truck driver was charged with driving while impaired, involuntary manslaughter and several other charges Wednesday in the hit-and-run death of a 7-year-old girl at a bus stop Tuesday afternoon.
Johnny Allen Spell, 37, of 192 Bud Spell Lane in Roseboro, also faces charges of felony passing a stopped school bus, felony hit and run and driving while impaired while operating a commercial motor vehicle, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol said.
It's unclear whether Spell was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A co-worker said Spell was on his way to a paper mill when the wreck happened.
Investigators said he was driving a logging truck Tuesday afternoon on U.S. Highway 421 near Herring Road in the town of Harrells, when he passed a stopped school bus around 3:45 p.m., hit Alyiah McKenzie Morgan and kept driving.
"She didn't deserve to be run down in front of her own home," Morgan's aunt, Rosabell Martinez, said. "She was so excited to get off the bus."
Morgan, a first-grader at Union Elementary School, died while on her way to Sampson Regional Medical Center in Clinton, troopers said.
Spell, who works for Roseboro-based Lucas Ricky Trucking, and the truck were located several hours later near Autryville, about 30 miles away from the crash.
He was in the Sampson County jail under a $200,000 bond Wednesday morning.
According to court records, Spell has multiple drug convictions dating back a decade, along with a DWI conviction in 2008. He has also been arrested for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, along with ingredients for methamphetamine.
Last week, he was arrested for driving without an operator's license.
It's unclear why he was allowed to drive the truck. The owner of Ricky Lucas Trucking could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the company has been in business since 2009.
In the past 24 months, three trucks were placed out of service following inspections. The company's 23 percent out-of-service rate is above the national average.
The out-of-service rate for drivers is also above the national average. In 14 highway inspections, one driver was pulled off the road. More detailed information about the driver wasn't immediately available Wednesday afternoon.
For the past year, Ricky Lucas Trucking has been flagged by federal officials for having too many vehicle maintenance problems.
It's unclear how, with the violations, the company has been able to continue to operate.
The government is also supposed to do on-site safety audits every two years on trucking companies, but, according to records, there have been none on Ricky Lucas Trucking since 2009.