Charges Likely Against Truck Driver In Harnett Restaurant Crash
Posted July 20, 2004 4:08 a.m. EDT
OLIVIA, N.C. — Peggy's Seafood Restaurant remains closed Tuesday, a day after a dump truck plowed into the dining room of the Harnett County restaurant, killing the owner's son.
A 45-foot long dump truck driven by David Brachearo, 52, of Greensboro, hit two cars and then plowed into the restaurant on N.C. 87, just north of Olivia Monday.
Officials are not sure what caused the accident, but they have interviewed Brachearo, who is in fair condition at University of North Carolina Hospitals, and say he will be charged.
Investigators say they do not believe alcohol was a factor. The truck is being inspected to check for possible mechanical failure.
Dale Hardee, 32, of Sanford, the restaurant owner's son, was killed in the accident. Three others were injured.
The driver of one of the vehicles, Emilio Serrano, is in stable condition at Central Carolinas Medical Center. Restaurant patron Laura Holder, 56, is listed in critical condition at Duke, and restaurant patron Elizabeth Smith, 43, is in stable condition at Central Carolinas.
According to the Highway Patrol, Brachearo was traveling south on N.C. 87 at approximately 70 mph when he came to the intersection of Broadway and 87, where there was a red light. He failed to stop in time and hit a vehicle in front of him stopped at the light. That vehicle, a 1989 Nissan driven by Serrano, was knocked off the road.
After hitting the Nissan, troopers said, Brachearo's truck side-swiped a 2003 Honda heading the other direction in a turning lane.
After sideswiping the Civic, the truck then went into the restaurant, hitting Smith and Holder.
It took crews most of the afternoon Monday to pull the truck back out of the building. Brachearo was pinned in the cab for some time before being removed by rescue crews.
"It did not seem real," witness Cynthia Womack said. "It just seemed like: 'Pow. Boom.' It didn't seem real."
Womack said the dump truck sped past her, ran through a red light and then crashed into two cars. One of the cars had a smashed windshield; the other was crushed.
"He wasn't turning or veering to the left or the right," Womack said of the truck driver, using her arms to indicate that he just continued straight ahead.
The truck then swerved off the road and into the side of the restaurant.
Officers said there were about eight people inside the restaurant at the time.
Three medical helicopters airlifted victims from the scene. Others were rushed to area hospitals by ambulance.
More than 100 spectators gathered to catch a glimpse of the action. Some wept, while others counted their blessings.
Witness Quaden Nichols was walking over to Peggy's for lunch when he heard the bang.
"If I would have walked over there, there was a very good possibility I would have been sitting right where the front of the truck is," Nichols said.