Local News

Trucker convicted in crash that killed NC mental health director

Posted July 12, 2013

— A logging truck driver was convicted Friday of running over the chief of North Carolina's mental health services last year as the man was riding a bicycle in north Raleigh.

A jury found Clifton Paul Ellis Jr., 29, of 1715 Richardson Bass Road in Kenly, guilty of misdemeanor death by vehicle and failure to reduce speed to avoid a collision. He was sentenced to 75 days in jail, which was suspended to two years on probation, and was ordered to perform community service at a cycling-related organization.

Ellis' truck hit bicyclist Steven Laverne Jordan, 49, of Raleigh, from behind in the right lane of northbound Louisburg Road north of Perry Creek Road on July 4, 2012.

Investigators determined that Ellis didn't shift far enough into another lane to pass Jordan, according to a police report. Ellis told police that traffic in the center lane of Louisburg Road prevented him from moving into that lane before the crash.

Jordan was thrown more than 50 feet after the crash, according to the police report. The truck was traveling well below the speed limit – 35 mph in a 50-mph zone – the report stated.

Jordan had been the director of the North Carolina Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services since 2010.

He previously served as the state director of ResCare-North Carolina, where he managed programs for people with disabilities, and he worked with the North Carolina MENTOR program, which provides behavioral health services for at-risk youth.

68 Comments

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  • LastSon1981 Jul 15, 1:24 p.m.

    Accidents happen right? Talk about cases of winding up dead by being some where you shouldn't have.

  • btneast Jul 15, 11:52 a.m.

    btneast, as a cyclist, I can live with that. I don't mind being considered stupid by a caring person who values life. For the record, sometimes I ride at rush hour for the same reason I drive my car, to get to and from work

    FWIW, I don't think its stupid to bike on the roads in general, but on some roads at certain times, I do think its stupid to do so...its a careless risk of one's life and selfish on the riders part. Selfish is what the one's you leave behind will think at your funeral, God forbid it would come to that. Riding some of these roads during rush hour is increasing the odds of being hit and severely injured or kill dramatically. Is it really worth your life to prove a point?

  • westernwake1 Jul 12, 7:53 p.m.

    "The bottom line is that drivers need to pay less attention to distractions like cell phones, the radio, passengers, impatience, road rage, attractive runners...

    and pay more attention to driving and watching out for bicyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians, wildlife crossings, debris, weather conditions, car malfunctions, and anything else that doesn't follow "your rules".

    Drive alert, and drive defensively. Be a hero and save a life, maybe even your own." - culpd

    Well Stated! ...and hopefully we can avoid tragedies like this in the future.

  • 212thMP Jul 12, 7:50 p.m.

    Speeds get faster, roads are MUCH more crowded, and the state does little to correct the issue. Make more bike paths and as a side note, make "mopeds" a licensed type of vehicle. Everyday I see one almost run over as they travel as though they are a motorcycle. As a motorcyclist, I know that danger abounds, but really?? 35 in a 55 is unsafe... Prayers to BOTH families... It is a bad deal for both...

  • culpd Jul 12, 7:36 p.m.

    The bottom line is that drivers need to pay less attention to distractions like cell phones, the radio, passengers, impatience, road rage, attractive runners...

    and pay more attention to driving and watching out for bicyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians, wildlife crossings, debris, weather conditions, car malfunctions, and anything else that doesn't follow "your rules".

    Drive alert, and drive defensively. Be a hero and save a life, maybe even your own.

  • DaddysAngel27 Jul 12, 6:54 p.m.

    It states clearly in the driver's handbook from the DMV that the speed limit in NC is 35 mph unless otherwise posted.

  • westernwake1 Jul 12, 5:55 p.m.

    "It does NOT state any specific minimum speed limits. There are only minimum speed limits where it is posted. I stood corrected on saying there were no minimum speed limits, but they only apply when posted." - jimkrugjr67

    So your agree that your assertion 'None of the secondary roads in the state of NC have a minimum speed limit' is absolutely false. If you would quote some of the other sections on minimum speed limit in the document, it will become very clear to everyone that North Carolina has minimum speed limits on secondary roads. Other sections in the law documents state that those violating minimum speed limits will be charged. On roads without a minimum speed limit posted; the charge will be impeding traffic.

    I. No person shall operate a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic. '20-141(h)

  • jimkrugjr67 Jul 12, 5:38 p.m.

    I just went to your link westernwake1. I pulled this straight from your link.

    Minimum speed limits for interstates and other primary highways that have a maximum speed limit of 55 MPH or greater are already established by general statute (§20-141, c – see Section 3.1, “Statutory Speed Limits”).
    For all other roads in areas outside the corporate limits of a municipality on the State Highway System, minimum speed limits may be established by NCDOT following an engineering and traffic investigation that determines slow speeds on any part of the road “considerably impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.” However, minimum speed limits are only effective when signs are erected.

    It does NOT state any specific minimum speed limits. There are only minimum speed limits where it is posted. I stood corrected on saying there were no minimum speed limits, but they only apply when posted.

  • westernwake1 Jul 12, 5:34 p.m.

    "Where was he convicted of hit and run? Did I miss it? It was an accident, the cyclist's wife forgives the guy, I've got a feeling the truck driver feels pretty horrible about what happened - why is more punishment needed?" - Hans

    I have to give Angela Jordan huge credit. Very classy lady.

    I would have difficulty stepping up and doing what she did if someone killed one of my family members in an accident.

    Here is the ABC-11 article:
    http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?section=news/local&id=9170624

  • sonyakw Jul 12, 5:32 p.m.

    I have to agree with A Patriot and his remark shown below. There is no way that I would ride my bike on a busy road like 401 and expect everyone to be able to see me. Common sense says stay away from busy highways. Find a park nearby & enjoy the ride.

    With all due respect and sorrow for the situation, bikes should not be on roads with a limit above a certain speed. That the biker was on 401 (which I believe is 50mph where this incident occurred) was unsafe, unwise and unsmart.

    This is not about "bike rights" and "share the road" and "bikes are legal forms of transportation" (although on that last bit, where are the registrations, property taxes, inspections, etc?). It's about common sense.

    You "bike nazis" (and you know who you are) who believe you can pedal down I-40 because it's your "right" are asking if not begging for trouble. Ride your bike where it makes sense and is safe to do so. This way, everyone wins.

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