Trooper suspended after failing to see body of Clayton woman in her wrecked car

tmcdonald@newsobserver.comApril 23, 2013 

— The State Highway Patrol has suspended a trooper after he failed to see the body of a dead woman in the front seat of a car that crashed in a ditch about two miles from her home.

The suspension of Trooper Marlon D. Williams, a nine-year veteran with the Highway Patrol, began Monday, according to Pam Walker, a spokeswoman with the state Department of Public Safety.

No criminal charges will be filed, said Walker, who would not disclose the length of Williams’ suspension because it is “a personnel matter.” He was suspended without pay.

Williams responded to an accident involving a 2003 Pontiac belonging to Carolyn Ann Watkins, 63, of Clayton on Swift Creek Road on March 29. Williams and the tow-truck operator who pulled Watkins’ car out of the ditch both failed to see her body behind deployed air bags.

Williams concluded his accident report by noting: “No driver at the scene of this collision.”

Watkins’ family reported her missing three days later when she did not show up for work at a Wendy’s in Smithfield. When Smithfield police detectives investigating the missing person report went to Dustin’s Towing Company and Recovery Lot in Willow Creek to look for clues in her car, they found Watkins’ body lying across the front seat.

Watkins died of blunt-force injuries to her head and neck, according to an autopsy at the state medical examiner’s office in Raleigh.

The suspension comes after the State Bureau of Investigation determined Williams was negligent in handling the crash scene.

McDonald: 919-829-4533

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