Charges Possible in Wake Deputy Crash
Posted January 3, 2008 6:49 a.m. EST
Updated January 4, 2008 12:37 a.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina Highway Patrol troopers were expected to meet with Wake County prosecutors Thursday to discuss possible charges against a deputy involved in a wreck while responding to a pursuit of carjacking suspects.
Master Deputy Anthony Locklear, 37, crossed the center line on Rock Quarry Road near Ruby Drive shortly after 6 p.m. Wednesday, colliding head-on with a Kia driven by Brenda Smith, 58, authorities said.
Locklear's cruiser then spun around and hit a second vehicle, driven by Ralph Ellis.
Smith was listed in critical condition at WakeMed Thursday evening. Locklear, Ellis and two passengers in Ellis' car were treated at a local hospital and released.
Highway Patrol investigators believe Locklear was travelling at a high rate of speed when he lost control of his cruiser on a sharp curve.
The question investigators and prosecutors have to answer is whether Locklear was somehow negligent.
"We do have the lights and siren and do have the authority to run lights and siren to try to assist or respond to a call," Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Everett Clendenin said. "But that doesn't elevate you above the law."
Brenda Smith who works for Wake County Human services was in critical condition at WakeMed Thursday night
"Nobody's above the law. Law enforcement is treated just like other motorists out travelling on the highway," Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Everett Clendenin said.
"That's not saying that this deputy has done anything wrong. We're still investigating at this time."
Locklear was responding to a pursuit on U.S. Highway 64 Bypass when the wreck occurred, Sheriff Donnie Harrison said Wednesday.
A Knightdale woman said two armed men stole her Honda Accord as she was leaving home. Wake County deputies later spotted the car on U.S. 64 Bypass and engaged in a low-speed chase to try to stop the driver.
"We were trying to make sure we stopped him before he hit somebody else," Harrison said.
The Accord hit several vehicles during the incident before the occupants ditched the car at Rock Quarry Road and Atkins Drive. A 16-year-old girl and a male juvenile were arrested while running from authorities.
Authorities were still searching Thursday for two more people connected to the carjacking.
A Highway Patrol accident reconstruction team returned to Rock Quarry Road Thursday to try to determine what caused Locklear and the other cars to wreck.
"Regretfully, somebody did get hurt," Harrison said. "We're involved in it, and we're going to work through it and see what caused it. The Highway Patrol will be able to tell me some answers, and we'll look at it from there."
Locklear has been with the Wake County Sheriff's Office since 1999. His job status remains in tact while an investigation is under way.