Local News

Man Charged in Triple-Fatal Christmas Wreck

Posted January 5, 2007 1:54 p.m. EST
Updated January 5, 2007 10:57 p.m. EST

— A driver involved in a Christmas Day wreck that killed three members of an Orange County family was charged Friday in connection with their deaths.

Billy Ray Bullock Jr., 35, of Raleigh, was charged with three counts of misdemeanor death by vehicle and was released from the Wake County Magistrate Office, authorities said.

Charles Burger Jr., his wife and their son were driving from Hillsborough to Wilson for the holiday when a westound Chevrolet Tahoe spun out of control on the U.S. Highway 64 Bypass near Wendell, crossed the center median and collided head-on with their passenger van.

Barbara Burger, 57, and Ivan Burger, 20, were pronounced dead at the scene. Charles Burger died Wednesday at WakeMed.

Bullock, the driver of the Tahoe, suffered minor injuries in the wreck. He issued a public apology to the Burger family this week, but said he doesn't remember the accident.

"I wasn't surprised I was charged," Bullock told WRAL Friday. "I knew I was going to get charged with something. I just didn't know what. I just had to wait and see. Then, the state troopers came to talk to me."

A cable guardrail in the median where the accident occurred was down because of an earlier accident, and authorities looked at that as a factor in the wreck. They also are looking at the road's drainage and other characteristics in the area because 40 wrecks have occurred within a half-mile of the site in the past 18 months.

North Carolina Highway Patrol troopers have determined that excessive speed was the primary factor in the wreck, however. The Highway Patrol’s accident reconstruction team is still investigating the case.

"The driver was driving too fast for the conditions, lost control of the vehicle and then crossed over the median," Lt. Everett Clendenin of the state Highway Patrol said. "The cables may have caught the driver — the vehicle — and stopped him, but we don't know that for sure. It goes back to driver error."