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Former Fire Captain Charged with DWI in Triple Fatal Accident

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CARRBORO — A former Chapel Hill fire captain has beencharged with driving while impaired in a weekend car accident thatkilled three, including a veteran Carrboro fire captain.

Thomas Eugene ``Tommy'' Roberts, 45, died after the van he wasriding in ran a stop sign and struck a car containing four elderlymembers of the same family, investigators said. Two passengers inthe car, Milton Andrew Perkinson, 71, and his wife, Mary AyscuePerkinson, 68, both of Henderson, were also killed.

The Orange County Firefighters Association has created a fund to helpdefray the costs of Capt. Roberts' funeral. Donations may be sent to Capt. Thomas Roberts Memorial Fund, Centura Bank, 300 Weaver St.,Carrboro, NC, 27510

The accident happened Sunday afternoon near Lake Gaston on U.S.158 bypass 4.7 miles east of Norlina.

Former Chapel Hill fire captain Billy Breeden, 44, was drivingthe van, and was charged with driving while impaired and running astop sign, said Sgt. F.M. Lemmond of the N.C. Highway Patrol.

Breeden underwent emergency surgery in which his left arm wasamputated. He remained in serious condition in intensive careMonday afternoon at Duke University Medical Center, Chapel HillFire Chief Dan Jones said.

Breeden's wife, Mary Ruth, suffered minor injuries and wasexpected to be released Monday from Duke Medical Center, Jonessaid. She was listed in good condition Monday, a hospitalspokeswoman said.

The driver of the car, Leon B. Perkinson, 73, of Durham, wasalso airlifted to Duke and was listed in critical condition Monday.

Perkinson's wife, Bess Ruppelt Perkinson, 69, was also badlyinjured. She was in good condition Monday at Duke.

Roberts has been with the Carrboro department for 22 years.Breeden worked for the Chapel Hill fire department for 20 yearsbefore retiring two years ago.

Breeden had just bought a cabin on Lake Gaston and Roberts hadgone to help him work on it, Jones said.

The accident came just as Carrboro's 19-person fire departmentwas trying to forget another tragedy. Capt. Robbie Crabtree wascritically burned in May after falling into the basement of aburned home. He was released from the hospital last week but it'suncertain whether he'll ever be able to return to work.

From staff and wire reportsCopyright ©1997 AssociatedPress. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast,rewritten, or distributed.

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