Raleigh, N.C. — 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.