Local News

Highway Patrol Recreates Fatal Accident Involving Deputy

Posted January 2, 2008 6:32 p.m. EST
Updated January 2, 2008 6:43 p.m. EST

— A Franklin County sheriff's deputy remains on paid leave pending the outcome of a Highway Patrol investigation into a fatal accident that killed a pedestrian.

Accident investigators on Wednesday reconstructed how Marcus Coppedge, 23, was struck and killed by Deputy Crystal Mitchell on News Year's Eve.

Family members, who said Coppedge was crossing N.C. Highway 39 to go to a convenience store in Ingleside, said they believe Mitchell was speeding in the 45 mph zone. The Highway Patrol said its investigation could take up to a month.

Mitchell had no comment, referring all questions to Franklin County Sheriff Pat Green.

"I'm deeply sorry that this happened," he said. "The deputy is deeply sorry. She's very upset and hurt."

Green said Mitchell, a three-year veteran of the force, told him she was distracted by a group of young men gathered in front on the 4 Stars Grocery.

Witness Abdul Ali said the accident happened in what seemed to be an instant.

"If I was the sheriff, I couldn't even recognize somebody running this fast," he said.

Meanwhile Wednesday, family members, including Coppedge's mother who witnessed the accident, continued to grieve.

"She put him in her arms, and she told him, 'Marcus, don't leave me. Marcus, don't leave me,'" the victim's aunt, Daphine Coppedge, said. "She said his eyes went back up inside his head, and she knew he was dead."

A wake for Coppedge is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at Richardson Funeral Home in Louisburg. His funeral is 3 p.m. Saturday at Louisburg High School.