Smithfield, N.C. — A State Highway Patrol trooper who didn't see a woman's body inside a wrecked car before he had it towed away last month won't face any charges, authorities said Tuesday.
Carolyn Ann Watkins' 2000 Pontiac Sunfire was found in a watery ditch, down a steep embankment off Swift Creek Road, about 4 miles southwest of Smithfield on March 29 and was towed to an impound lot, according to a report from the Highway Patrol.
Trooper Marlon Williams, who ordered the car towed, said "no driver (was) at the scene of this collision" in his report. However, Smithfield police found the Watkins' body in the driver's seat three days later after family members reported her missing.
Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle and Pam Walker, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Safety, said that no criminal charges will be filed against Williams.
DPS is still reviewing the incident, Walker said, and Williams, a nine-year veteran of the Highway Patrol, remains on administrative duty with pay pending the outcome of that investigation.
A preliminary autopsy showed that Wakins, 62, suffered head and neck trauma and likely died in the crash.
Her family criticized Williams' actions, saying that she might have been saved if someone had seen her in the car before it was towed from the crash scene.