Local News

911 caller says fatal Wake Forest crash could have been averted

Posted March 25, 2016
Updated March 28, 2016

— A man called 911 Tuesday to report a truck driving erratically on Interstate 40 hours before the truck was involved in a fatal crash in Wake Forest.

Investigators say Donald Wayne Caulder, 29, of Laurinburg, was northbound on Capital Boulevard in a dump truck hauling logs and towing a Bobcat at about 4:15 p.m. Tuesday when he rear-ended a 2004 Toyota Sienna.

The drump truck pushed the Sienna into the back of a tractor-trailer, and the minivan was crushed between the two trucks. The driver of the Sienna, Michelle Simone Barlow, 42, an English teacher at Wake Forest High School, was killed in the crash.

At about 1:30 p.m., 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.

"He has run off the road probably a dozen times in the last 3 miles. You got to get somebody over here before he hits somebody. He's running people off the road," the caller said. "I don't know if he's drunk or falling asleep, but he's not holding the wheel."

The State Highway Patrol confirmed Friday that the license number of the truck the caller reported to 911 matches the tag number of the truck involved in the Wake Forest crash.

The 911 caller, who asked not to be identified, told WRAL News in an exclusive interview Friday 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.

"Actually, at one point, I said to the 911 dispatcher, if you don't get somebody out here now, this guy's going to kill somebody," the man said.

He said he saw one Highway Patrol trooper and then a deputy with a funeral procession before he tried desperately to flag down a second trooper.

"I tried to wave the Highway Patrol officer down," the man said. "He looked over at me. I waved my arms frantically out the window with no response from him."

A Highway Patrol spokesman said the agency is looking into the man's call and the response to it.

The man said he even entertained the thought of pulling the dump truck over himself.

"I'm half tempted to pull this guy over myself because he's running people off the road," he told the dispatcher in the 911 call.

"Well, if you try to pull him over, you don't know what he's got in his vehicle, and you're putting yourself in danger," the dispatcher responded.

When the man saw news of the crash on Wednesday, he said he felt sick to his stomach.

"When I saw that picture on your website, I didn't even want to click the image to read the story because it was beyond my capability to comprehend what happened," he said. "Our community deserves better protection than this. I mean, I'm just going to say it if nobody else will, but shame on them."

Charges are pending against Caulder.

Caulder has been convicted of driving without a license, but seven other driving-related violations against him since 2008 were dismissed, according to court records. He also has two pending drug charges in Moore County.

Tim Robbins, the owner of the dump truck and Caulder's cousin, said Caulder has a commercial driver's license and passed an insurance background check.

Robbins said Caulder doesn't know what happened in the crash, which Robbins called "a tragic accident."


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  • Marcia Maloney Mar 27, 2016
    user avatar

    I read in the article that the 911 caller tried to get the attention of an official in a funeral procession but the office ignored him I would have said the hell with the funeral the person is already dead shame on the law for ignoring this man's attempt to have this truck driver pulled over if that officer would have been smart enough to realize when a person is trying to flag someone that means help and this teachers life could have been saved

  • Bill Stoudenmire Mar 26, 2016
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    that's fine sir. We can agree to disagree in a agreeable fashion. Ive never been in law enforcement but have family and friends that are/were. I'll concede to your experience. I suppose my post was more in frustration with folks always seeming to blame LE officers for what they do, not what they don't do. I'm sure in time the truth will come out about how serious or not they took this.

  • Ronald Carr Mar 26, 2016
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    ... with all due respect Bill, you could not be ore wrong! Law enforcement is to blame. When a citizen reports a Driver that could be impaired, that call should be treated with as much importance as someone pointing a Gun at someone else,,, because they are just as dangerous! Impaired Drivers KILL PEOPLE Bill. I can tell you with much experience that for some unknown reason, Law Enforcement Choose to place little validity on reports called in by Citizens. That needs to CHANGE.

  • Janet Ghumri Mar 26, 2016
    user avatar

    It is disheartening to hear that this driver could have been stopped as much as 3 hours before the crash that took a woman's life. From the article, it makes me wonder how many other accidents he could have caused, meaning which of us could have gotten that heart stopping, life changing phone call.
    Prayers for the family, and the students from her classes that will be dealing with the tragic aftermath of one man's selfish actions.

  • Bill Stoudenmire Mar 26, 2016
    user avatar

    The state could not have picked a worse time to announce a crack down on speeding after this incident. I don't think we can blame the shp or any other agency though. Can you imagine how many calls a day they must get about somebody's driving? I've called 911 myself on suspected drunk drivers. It's a tragedy to be sure but let's place the blame where it belongs. On that driver.

  • Jeff Gameo Mar 26, 2016
    user avatar

    The problem is that we'll never be able to know how much the LEOs actually do prevent, and we can't expect them to be able to prevent every bad thing from happening. With that said though, I agree with everyone else ... this is a terrible tragedy that much more should have been done to prevent.

  • Jeff Gameo Mar 26, 2016
    user avatar

    The problem is that we'll never be able to know how much the LEOs actually do prevent, and we can't expect them to be able to prevent every bad thing from happening. With that said though, I agree with everyone else ... this is a terrible tragedy that much more should have been done to prevent.

  • Anne Havisham Mar 26, 2016
    user avatar

    Bravo for the caller! May he have peace in knowing that he tried to stop an out-of-control driver.

    People here seem awfully prepared to blame dispatchers; it is not their job to sound suitably horrified when a call comes in; it is their job to get the right kind of information from callers and pass it along to LEOs. I'm not sure how much prioritizing of the calls they do, either.

    Let's suppose that the driver of the truck was driving without a license and that he is guilty of the drug charges he's facing. That does not immediately mean that he might not have been having an unforseeable health crisis behind the wheel.

    Could the pitchforks and torches remain in storage for just a day or two longer?

  • Mark Baratta Mar 25, 2016
    user avatar

    Sad thing is this individual had to have had his foot on the accelerator when he hit that poor woman (who had stopped). She was crushed to death after all. We all saw the pictures. May God provide her family with some peace and understanding during this difficult Easter weekend.

  • Susan Whitlow Mar 25, 2016
    user avatar

    I too called the *HP number some yrs ago because of an accident backup on 40 East and people were speeding down the right shoulder to get to the next exit - which was not close by. The dispatcher couldn't have been more uninterested. I told them well there is another accident waiting to happen as people are going the speed limit and someone is going to pull out and get it. Didn't care.