Local News

Truck driver charged following fatal Wake Forest chain-reaction crash

Posted March 30, 2016
Updated March 31, 2016

— A truck driver was charged Wednesday in connection with a deadly chain-reaction crash on Capital Boulevard that killed a high school teacher earlier this month.

According to authorities, Donald Wayne Caulder, 29, of Laurinburg, was taken into custody in Scotland County and charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle and failure to reduce speed. He was later released under a written promise to appear in Wake County court on June 28.

Caulder was traveling north on Capital Boulevard in a 2004 Freightliner dump truck towing a Bobcat at about 4:15 p.m. on March 22 when he rear-ended a 2004 Toyota Sienna driven by Michelle Simone Barlow, 42, of Wake Forest.

Barlow, an English teacher at Wake Forest High School, died in the crash. Investigators believed that Barlow was either stopped or slowing at the time of the accident.

Caulder’s truck pushed Barlow's minivan into the back of a 2011 Freightliner tractor-trailer driven by Marvin Douglas Erb, 49, of Danville, Va. Erb's tractor-trailer then rear-ended a Honda passenger vehicle.

Both Caulder and Erb were transported to WakeMed with non-life-threatening injuries. The driver of the Honda was not injured.

According to his criminal record, Caulder had a history of eight driving-related violations since 2008. He also has two pending drug charges in Moore County.

Three hours before the fatal crash, a man following a log-laden dump truck towing a Bobcat called 911 to report the truck was swerving from lane to lane on eastbound I-40 near N.C. Highway 54 in Cary.

The 911 caller, who asked not to be identified, told WRAL News in an exclusive interview that he followed the truck for about 20 miles, from Davis Drive in Research Triangle Park to the I-40 split with Interstate 440 near Garner, but was unable to get law enforcement to pull the truck over.

Timothy Robbins, the man who owns the truck Caulder was driving, said he expected charges, but said the crash report shows what he believed all along - that it was just a tragic accident.

"I would give everything I have and I would work the rest of my life if I could bring that lady back," Robbins said.

Robbins said the truck passed a routine roadside inspection the week before the crash.

In paperwork obtained by WRAL from the Motor Carrier Enforcement Section of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, Robbins and his company have previous citations. Most recently, Caulder was driving the same truck when he was involved in a minor crash in Fuquay-Varina in January 2016. The company had three violations and was issued a $300 fine.

A service was held for Barlow was held in Virginia on Wednesday. Barlow's husband, Michael Barlow said that about 1200 people attended the service and said that the family is praying for Caulder.


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  • Tandy Dawgy Mar 31, 2016
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    The truck driver was swerving from lane to lane on I-40 genius. I have a feeling good ol' "5-0" has a number of infractions in their playbook that this violates.

    So I also assume that if a private citizen sees an apparently drunk driver operating their vehicle in the same manner, that they shouldn't call 911? I mean, LE doesn't PREVENT crime, so let's just let thing happen and they can make the appropriate arrest(s) out of the mangled bodies afterwards?

  • Tandy Dawgy Mar 31, 2016
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    Scenario 1- A person literally a half-mile from leaving their driveway is not wearing their seatbelt.

    Scenario 2- Some guy is wheeling a giant death machine haphazardly down a major interstate with a guy tailing him, frantically calling 911 and flagging law enforcement.

    So who ends up getting pulled? Two guesses. I broke the law and have no one else to blame. For me though, the irony is just... insane.

  • Johnathan Gault Mar 31, 2016
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    How many times do I have to repeat this! The LE reacts to crime they do not prevent crime. Talk about unreasonable expectations, do any of you people have life experiences? Your safety is your responsibility not a government entity. Society will get its 50 lbs. of flesh. But for some people to post on here expecting LE to do anything else in the future is quite hysterical.

  • Sibylle Lashley Mar 30, 2016
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    That guy followed him for 20 miles! And no trooper, sheriff nor cop was available to get there? Sad... It would probably have saved that poor lady's life.. Why call for help if help won't come......terrible

  • Anita Gibson Mar 30, 2016
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    from what I read 7 of the 8 charges were dismissed. His cousin, which owns the business, said he passed the insurance background check. Even more sickening was the person that had reported him after following him for over 20 miles driving erratically and running people off the road. Charging him with a misdemeanor just victimized her family and her students all over again. Absolutely sickening.

  • Bill Hicks Mar 30, 2016
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    Here's what I want to know: what kind of company employees a guy with 8 driving violations and 2 pending drug charges to drive a huge truck with a massive trailer? Looks like Timothy Robbins owns Arbormax Tree Service. From the pictures it looks like they use this truck to haul tree trunks, which means it carries heavy loads, making it even more dangerous. Does Arbormax do background checks on drivers? How in the world did Arbormax's insurance company allow this guy on the driver list? Or was this guy even on the policy at all? I suspect there is more to this story than initially meets the eye...

  • Jennifer Holland Mar 30, 2016
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    I'm curious as to the results of the toxicology report. I thought for sure there were drugs or alcohol involved. I hope the guilt eats him alive every day for the rest of his life.
    Read more at http://www.wral.com/share/page/1896337/?id=15609541#zyz6fWrBeKC2DHR9.99

    Sadly, I doubt there's a lot of guilt there. But I hope I'm wrong. I was wondering about the toxicology as well, since he has two pending drug charges in Moore County.

  • Sara Hauser Mar 30, 2016
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    My apologies to Betsy-misread your post. Sorry!!

  • Sara Hauser Mar 30, 2016
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    I totally agree with you, Frank Curcio!! Betsy, I bet if it were your family member, you might feel differently. This is basically a slap on the wrist and he probably won't see jail time.

  • Betsy Smith Mar 30, 2016
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    The bleeding hearts feel like even though he was driving recklessly, he still didn't intend to kill anyone. There's no requirement for common sense and that's probably why there is so little these days.