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Highway Patrol plans fund for trooper's family

Trooper Andrew Stocks, 43, died about three hours after his cruiser crashed with a garbage truck Tuesday. His fellow troopers are starting a fund to help Stocks' wife and stepdaughter.

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GARNER, N.C. — The Highway Patrol planned to set up a fund Wednesday to help the family of a trooper who died while responding to a wreck Tuesday afternoon.

Trooper Andrew Stocks, 43, died at WakeMed about three hours after his cruiser crashed with a garbage truck, authorities said.

His fellow troopers said they planned to open an account Wednesday at the State Employees Credit Union to help Stocks' wife, Liane, and stepdaughter. Once it's set up, people can make donations at any branch.

This is the second fund the Highway Patrol has set up in recent months.

The organization also created a fund for Trooper David Shawn Blanton who was shot to death in June during a traffic stop on Interstate 40 near Canton.

The fund will help support Blanton's wife and infant son, who has struggled with medical problems since his premature birth two weeks before his father's death.

Troopers also plan to collect donations and sell various items at their 8K run on Sept. 20 called "The Patrol Stroll."  Donations and some of the other money collected will benefit Stocks' and Blanton's families.

'Serious collision'

Stocks' fatal wreck Tuesday happened in mid-afternoon on Ten-Ten Road, about a quarter-mile from the intersection of Old Stage Road, authorities said. Ten-Ten Road was closed while the wreck was investigated and did not reopen until night.

The garbage truck driver, whose name wasn't released, suffered minor injuries and was treated at the scene.

A Highway Patrol accident reconstruction team spent much of Tuesday afternoon trying to determine what led to the collision, Capt. Everett Clendenin said. The cruiser collided at an angle with the truck, and the point of impact was on the driver's door of the cruiser, he said.

"This is a very serious collision for us," Clendenin said.

Nearby residents said an afternoon shower left the road slick, and they said the curve in Ten-Ten Road where the wreck occurred is the site of frequent accidents.

"What concerns me the most is the fact that curve is very dangerous," said Teresa Butler, who owns Stage Road Hairstyling nearby. "If you're coming around on the curve, you don't see a (vehicle) until you're on (it). Many times, people are slamming on brakes (and) going in a ditch, but the 35-mph zone doesn't seem to affect anyone out here."

No charges were expected to be filed, Clendenin said.

Stocks was responding to a wreck on U.S. Highway 401 when his cruiser collided with the garbage truck, Clendenin said, adding that he didn't know whether Stocks' blue lights and siren were on at the time.

U.S. 401 was closed in both directions in front of Wake Technical Community College's main entrance for more than two hours following the wreck there.

A pickup hauling a trailer went out of control, flipped and slammed into a utility pole, knocking down power lines and traffic lights, authorities said. The driver suffered minor injuries.

Officials at Vance Elementary School, at 8808 Old Stage Road, worked with Wake County authorities to get cars and school buses into and out of the school parking lots so students could be dismissed on time at 3:45 p.m. despite the crash that claimed Stocks.

'Dedicated public servant'

Stocks graduated from Cary High School in 1983, served as a Marine in Afghanistan and an 18-month tour of duty in Iraq with the Army Reserves. He joined the Highway Patrol in 2004. He is the 60th state trooper to die in the line of duty.

“Andrew was a dedicated public servant. He served his military honorably and continued in his service to the state. He was happiest when performing his job as a trooper. He loved his job,” Liane Stocks said in a statement.

State troopers started wearing black bands on their shields Tuesday evening and will wear them until sunset on the day of Stocks’ funeral, Clendenin said. Funeral arrangements are pending.

"Trooper Stocks was a very dedicated, enthusiastic trooper," said Col. Walter Wilson, commander of the Highway Patrol. "He loved his job. He was a very valuable member of the Highway Patrol. We are going to miss him."

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Stacy Davis, Reporter
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