Highway Patrol: Trooper lost control of cruiser
Posted September 10, 2008 12:14 p.m. EDT
Updated September 10, 2008 8:54 p.m. EDT
Garner, N.C. — A state Highway Patrol trooper who was killed in a wreck Tuesday afternoon was trying to regain control of his cruiser when it slammed sideways into a garbage truck, authorities said Wednesday.
Trooper Andrew J. Stocks, 43, died at WakeMed about three hours after the 1:30 p.m. wreck on Ten-Ten Road, about a quarter-mile west of its intersection with Old Stage Road.
Stocks was responding to a wreck on U.S. Highway 401 at the entrance to Wake Technical Community College when his cruiser collided with a garbage truck owned by Republic Services.
A Highway Patrol accident reconstruction team determined that Stocks' car crossed the center line on Ten-Ten Road as he rounded a curve and he tried to regain control of the vehicle by steering hard to the right. The cruiser then slid sideways into the path of the garbage truck, authorities said.
The cruiser collided at an angle with the truck, and the point of impact was the driver's door of the cruiser, authorities said.
The garbage truck driver, Brian Jeffery Bruckner, 23, of Kenly, suffered minor injuries in the wreck. Bruckner tried to avoid the collision, investigators said, and no charges would be filed against him.
Investigators have determined that Stocks had his emergency lights on at the time of the wreck. They haven't yet determined how fast he was going, but they said they don't believe it was excessive.
Nearby residents said wrecks frequently occur at the curve in Ten-Ten Road because drivers exceed the posted 35-mph speed limit.
Investigators also noted the road was wet at the time of Tuesday's wreck, following an afternoon shower.
Stocks graduated from Cary High School in 1983, served as a Marine in Afghanistan and an 18-month tour of duty in Iraq with the Army Reserves. He joined the Highway Patrol in 2004. He is the 60th state trooper to die in the line of duty and is survived by his wife, Liane, and a stepdaughter.
"He is, was, a fine, fine young man, and I think I lost a good friend," said Bob Emerson, who lives across the street from Stocks' parents in Cary and watched Stocks grow up. "His devotion to his duties – to his country, to the state of North Carolina, to his family – are commendable."
A former FBI agent, Emerson said he often talked with Stocks about law enforcement.
"I think that may have influenced him to go into it, and it makes me feel just a tad guilty," he said.
A visitation for Stocks will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at Brown-Wynne Funeral Home in Cary. The funeral will be 1 p.m. Saturday at Colonial Baptist Church in Cary.
A memorial fund for Stocks' family has been established at the State Employees Credit Union. Donations can be mailed to the following address: NCSECU, Attn: Sherri Cannady, PO Box 450, Garner, NC 27529.