Monday, July 24, 2017

Jacob Wright, 14, was killed and Logan Duran, 13, was critically injured while riding a four-wheeler after drug-impaired Steve Edward Carroll, 61, of Connelly Springs, struck them with his SUV in NC

CONNELLY SPRINGS, NC — The names of the two boys involved in a fatal four-wheeler crash Saturday have been released, and the driver of the SUV that struck them has been charged with seven offenses.

Jacob Wright, 14, was killed and his friend Logan Duran, 13, was critically injured while riding a four-wheeler Saturday after Steve Edward Carroll, 61, of Connelly Springs, struck them at about 2 p.m., said Trooper Lane with N.C. Highway Patrol.

Carroll was charged with driving while impaired after admitting to taking oxycodone and Klonopin that he told troopers was prescribed to him, Lane said. He also was charged with having an open container of alcohol in his vehicle, a Mitsubishi SUV.

Wright was pronounced dead at the scene on Baptist Camp Road and Duran was transported by helicopter to a Charlotte hospital, authorities said.

Carroll was charged with misdemeanor child abuse; his 3-year-old granddaughter was restrained in the front seat of the SUV, which rolled over multiple times during the crash. The girl was transported to a local hospital with minor injuries, Lane said.

Wright appears to have pulled out of his grandparents' driveway on Baptist Camp Road when the four-wheeler was struck, Lane said. Neither of the boys was wearing a helmet.

Lane said the boys likely did not look to see if any cars were coming when they pulled out of the driveway because the road is so lightly traveled. The crash happened on a straight section of the road where Wright likely had “several hundred feet” of sight distance, he said.

It is unclear why the boys were entering the roadway, but Sanders said it is illegal to drive a four-wheeler on the road. The boys had been driving on the road prior to the crash and appear to have stopped at Wright’s grandparents’ house, Lane said.

There is tall grass near the driveway that may have caused Wright’s vision to be obstructed, Lane said.

Although Carroll has been charged with DWI, Wright is technically at fault for the crash, Lane said. Carroll swerved just prior to impact in an attempt to miss the four-wheeler, he said.

However, because Carroll should not have been driving in the first place, he will share the responsibility, Lane said.

Because the crash happened in an area of the county where no speed limit was posted, the speed limit was 55 mph. Sanders said he believes Carroll was traveling at about this speed when the crash occurred.

The impact caused front-end damage to the SUV and Carroll was transported to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, Sanders said. His blood also was drawn at the hospital to test for alcohol and drug use, Lane said.

Carroll had a previous DWI conviction, along with convictions for driving on revoked license, drug possession and habitual misdemeanor assault, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety website.

Sanders said he believes the boys were students in the Burke County Public Schools system. Five students in the school system have already died since last fall, Superintendent Larry Putnam said last week.

"It's not easy with any (victim) but the younger they are, the hardest it gets," Sanders said.

Lane said he believes Carroll and Duran have a “distant relation,” but was unsure exactly how they are related.

Wright’s mother and father arrived at the scene of the crash shortly after it happened, Lane said. Multiple members of the family live on Baptist Camp Road, he said.

The Burke County Sheriff's Office, Burke County EMS and the South Mountains Volunteer Fire Department also responded to the scene, Sanders said.

Carroll was also charged with driving with a revoked license, not having insurance on his vehicle and having a fictitious tag.

Further charges are pending after the district attorney reviews the case.

ATVs (all terrain vehicles) are designed for off-road use. They are used for hunting and other recreational activities, and for a variety of farm work including plowing. North Carolina has its own laws regarding ATV use that address issues like appropriate age and what type of ATV a person can operate as well as where a person can operate one. The laws do not apply to anyone using the vehicles for hunting, trapping or farming.

NC G.S. 20-171.16.
Passengers on ATVs. Cannot carry any passengers, when such vehicle was specifically designed by the manufacturer for operator only operation. 

NC G.S. 20-171.15(a). No one under 8 years of age is allowed to operate an ATV. 

NC G.S. 20-171.15(b). ATVs with an engine size of 70cc to 90cc should be operated by people at least 12 years of age.

NC G.S. 20-171.15(c). ATVs with an engine size of greater than 90cc should
only be operated by people at least 16 years of age. 

Always read owner’s manual carefully. 

NC G.S. 20-171.19(a). A safety helmet must be worn while operating an ATV.

NC G.S. 20-171.1(c). Cannot operate an ATV under the influence of drugs, alcohol or other impairing substance. 

NC G.S. 20-171.19(e). Cannot operate an ATV on any public street, road, or highway other than for the purpose of crossing. 

ATV Safety Tips
An ATV is not a toy. Children should not be permitted to operate ATVs without specialized training and then they should be allowed to only operate an ATV of an appropriate size. Contact the ATV Safety Institute to enroll in a course,
Always read owner’s manual carefully.  Most ATVs are not made for multiple riders. Never carry anyone else on the ATV.