Local News

Truck Driver Charged In Fatal Restaurant Crash

Posted July 30, 2004 11:46 a.m. EDT

— The driver of a tractor-trailer that plowed into the dining room of Peggy's Seafood Restaurant, killing the owner's son, turned himself in to authorities Thursday morning.

Troopers charged David Brachear, 52, of Burlington, with involuntary manslaughter, assault with a deadly weapon, a stop light violation, exceeding the speed limit and improper brakes.

Brachear is free after posting a $4,000 bond.

"He and his wife were both very, very emotional," Trooper R.E. Mellott said. "He was very apologetic and very remorseful."

On July 19, a 45-foot long dump truck driven by Brachear hit two cars and then plowed into the restaurant on N.C. 87, just north of Olivia.

Dale Hardee, 32, was killed; three others were injured.

According to the Highway Patrol, Brachear 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, was knocked off the road.

After hitting the Nissan, troopers said Brachear's truck sideswiped a 2003 Honda heading the other direction in a turning lane. After sideswiping the Civic, the truck then went into the restaurant, hitting two patrons.

Troopers spent days collecting evidence and running tests to determine the cause of the crash. The truck was checked for mechanical problems and investigators looked into whether Brachear had been drinking or had a medical condition.

In the end, investigators determined Brachear was speeding and not paying attention.

Chris Smith's also was inside, having a rare lunch with a co-worker.

"All she remembers was bending over to pick her pocketbook up to leave when the vehicle hit the building," Smith said.

His wife still is in the hospital. That's where the Smiths may spend their 23rd wedding anniversary.

"It's just a blessing to have the time to be still together," Smith said.