Photos show aftermath of crash scene NC State Auditor Beth Wood is accused of leaving

WRAL News on Friday obtained images from the December crash. The photos show a state-owned sedan crashed into a parked car in downtown Raleigh. The photos also detail damage to the vehicles.

Posted Updated

Matt Talhelm
, WRAL reporter
RALEIGH, N.C. — New photos show the aftermath of a downtown Raleigh crash that North Carolina State Auditor Beth Wood is charged with fleeing.

WRAL News on Friday obtained images of the Dec. 8 crash. The photos show a dark sedan partially atop a parked white car near the intersection of Hargett and Salisbury streets.

The images detail front-end damage to the vehicles and offer illustrations of the incident described in police reports and by several people who called emergency dispatchers following the crash.

Wood, 68, drove a state-issued vehicle into a parked car and "overrode up onto the hood" of the car, according to a Dec. 9 police report. It happened about 8:30 p.m., state records indicate.

Chris Valverde, the owner of parked car, learned of the crash from his daughter, who had borrowed the car to go to work at a downtown restaurant. She called him with the news that night.

“She was telling me that the car was on still, and someone had just fled the scene, so whoever this was,” Valverde told WRAL. “One of the last things she told me was, ‘Hey, the car that’s on top of my car is a state government vehicle.’”

He said they didn’t find out who the driver was until Jan. 6.

The account matches what police reported. The car Wood was driving, a 2021 Toyota Sedan, was left with the engine running, according to a police report. "The driver of the vehicle appeared to have fled the scene," the report said. Both vehicles were towed by wreckers.

Wood was charged Dec. 12 by Raleigh Police with misdemeanor hit and run resulting in property damage. Wood was also cited with an unsafe movement infraction. Nobody was injured in the crash, police said. There were no witnesses of the crash itself, but there was surveillance video, according to police.

Wood has declined to comment. She referred questions to her lawyer, Roger Smith Jr., who hasn't immediately responded to a requests for comment.

"I made a sharp sudden turn and struck a parked vehicle," Wood said in an automotive loss report provided by the state Department of Administration. The report says Wood was using the car for business purposes and that the crash was preventable.

The incident happened a block from Wood's office. The car Wood was driving — owned by the state's Division of Motor Fleet Management — had a single-digit license plate, according to police. Such plates are issued to Council of State officials, the top statewide elected officers in North Carolina.

At least three witnesses who came upon the crash aftermath also told emergency dispatchers that nobody was in the car when they arrived, according to recordings of those calls obtained by WRAL.

"I'm at the corner of Hargett and Salisbury, and there seems to be a car on top of another car," a female caller reporting the accident said in one recording. "Not completely, but two of the wheels are no longer on the ground, and the car is on and nobody's in it."

"A car is on top of another car," a male caller said to a dispatcher in another call. He said the vehicle on top was a "state-owned vehicle."

Another male caller said a black Toyota "appears to have run into the other car and there's nobody in either vehicle." The caller said there does not appear to be anyone injured anywhere near the vehicles.

Wood is scheduled to appear in administrative court on Thursday. “That is standard procedure for these types of cases,” Wake District Attorney Lorrin Freeman told WRAL. “And this case will be handled as any other.”

Wood, a Democrat, has served as state auditor since 2009 and was reelected to her fourth term in 2020. She worked in the state auditor’s office for 10 years prior to her election. Her office conducts audits of state spending and processes.


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