Thursday, May 25, 2017

Speeding and inattentive Norwood, NC employee Christopher Joel Coone, 28, was killed when he rear-ended a stopped tractor trailer at U.S. Highway 52 and N.C. Highway 731. He was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash

Norwood, NC employee dies on job

Ritchie Starnes, News Editor

A Norwood town employee who was also a Center Rural volunteer firefighter was killed Tuesday afternoon when he rear-ended a stopped tractor trailer.

Christopher Joel Coone, 28, died in the 1:11 p.m. crash at U.S. Highway 52 and N.C. Highway 731, according to the N.C. Highway Patrol.

Coone was driving south in a town-owned 2016 Ford work truck when he crashed into the back of the southbound tractor trailer that was waiting to turn left on N.C. 731 from U.S. 52, reports show.

Coone was pronounced dead at the scene.

Coone, who also lived in Norwood, failed to reduce his speed when he struck the yielding big rig, the Highway Patrol reports.

There was no sign Coone ever applied his brakes before impact, hitting the tractor trailer at an estimated speed of 55 mph. He was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, said trooper W.A. Vaughn.

“He (Coone) was distracted by something or had possibly fallen asleep,” Vaughn said.

Coone’s cellphone was found in the wreckage, but eliminated as a possible source of distraction, Vaughn added.

Coone had been a part of the rescue team that responded to Monday’s recovery of a suicide victim in the Rocky River. Some of those responders were up late until early Tuesday morning with the water recovery.

“That’s definitely a possibility (for why Coone may have not been as attentive), but there’s no way of knowing for sure,” Vaughn said.

First responders still working the water recovery were among the first on the scene of one of their own, Norwood Town Administrator John Mullis said.

Hired last November, Coone worked as a crew leader for the town’s water and sewer department.

“He was absolutely a go-getter. That’s why he was our crew leader,” Mullis said. “Chris was an asset to the town and he’s going to be missed.”

Just prior to the fatal crash, Coone had left lunch at the Harvest Diner and was en route to the town’s wastewater treatment plant to unlock the gate in preparation of a delivery, Mullis said.

“We know what he was doing and where he was going at the time. He was going through the course of his day,” he added.

Sammie Edward, 57, of Bulls Gap, Tennessee, was the driver of the tractor trailer.

A third driver sustained minor damages to their vehicle after striking debris from the wreck, the Highway Patrol reported.