Teen pays fine for wreck that killed Rocky Mount trucker
Posted September 4, 2013
Rocky Mount, N.C. — A judge was moved to tears Wednesday when the family of a Rocky Mount truck driver killed in a June wreck forgave the teen driver who pleaded guilty to causing the crash.
Jordan Anne Thomas, 16, of 208 Regency Drive in Nashville, pleaded guilty to failure to yield in the June 10 wreck and was ordered to pay a $75 fine and court costs. A charge of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle was dismissed as part of a plea agreement.
David Warren Stone, 71, was hauling building materials on U.S. Highway 301 Bypass in Rocky Mount and swerved to avoid Thomas, a Nash Central High School junior who had pulled out into the intersection while trying to make a right turn. The tractor-trailer then crashed into a bridge railing, and the truck cab slid down into the rain-swollen Stoney Creek as the truck flipped over the rail.
"Mr. Stone is my hero. Because of his actions on June 10th, my daughter is still alive, and I’m thankful for that," Thomas' father, Eddie Thomas, said after Wednesday's court hearing.
David Stone's two sons said they have already forgiven Jordan Thomas, saying they knew she made a mistake as a young driver. They didn't want her to face a harsh sentence, only plead guilty and accept responsibility for the crash, so she could live a full life after their father sacrificed his own life for hers.
"There are two good families here, and the situation was a bad situation," Chris Stone said. "We would like to thank everybody for your prayers and support."
District Judge John Covolo called the Stone family's response to the tragedy "exemplary," and he wiped his eyes and cleared his throat as he spoke about the case.
"I’m sure she has learned from this, and I can tell from these letters that have been written from the family that I’m sure they don’t want, they want her to have a good life and try to remember it but learn from it," Covolo said.
"Your husband and your father is obviously a good man," he told the Stone family. "You have a lot to be proud of, and so does he. I’ve never seen forgiveness like this, and I’ve been doing this for almost 30 years. God bless you is all I can say."
Eddie Thomas said he also was moved by the family's graciousness.
"It’s refreshing a breath of fresh air, a new start, a new beginning," he said.
Covolo knows Eddie Thomas, a former State Highway Patrol trooper, but Stone's family said they wanted him to handle the case despite the conflict of interest.