Wrong-way driver might have driven half of Raleigh's Beltline before fatal crash

tmcdonald@newsobserver.comOctober 31, 2013 

— Three weeks before she died in a head-on crash early Sunday, Elizabeth Camille Bullock had enrolled at Miller-Motte College to study cosmetology. She found a third shift job about a week later at Snoopy’s, a Hillsborough Street hot dog stand.

Bullock, 20, got off work early Sunday because it was her first weekend working third shift and was driving home, eastbound along Interstate 440, in the pre-dawn dark around 4 a.m.

At 6:45 a.m., a Wake County Sheriff’s deputy and Raleigh police officer knocked on the door of her parents’ home in Franklinton. They informed Kenny and Elizabeth Vaughn that a speeding Chevrolet Malibu traveling the wrong way on I-440 had crashed into their daughter’s Mazda, killing her instantly.

The officers told them the wrong-way driver, David Viva Xicotencatl, had recently separated from his wife.

Xicotencatl, 25, of Dudley, was rushed to WakeMed in Raleigh where he, too, died of his injuries. Police think Xicotencatl was driving while impaired, and they are awaiting toxicology test results.

Minutes before the accident, nearly a half-dozen motorists called 911 to report a car speeding in the wrong direction on the interstate near the Capital Boulevard and New Bern Avenue exits. Police now think Xicotencatl got on I-40 at the Hammond Road or Rock Quarry Road ramp and drove the wrong way almost halfway around Raleigh’s Beltline before he crashed into Bullock’s car between Six Forks and Wake Forest roads.

Xicotencatl’s family could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Sharon Artis, a medical examiner’s spokeswoman, said Xicotencatl’s remains were no longer at the medical examiner’s facility. She said Thursday that Xicotencatl’s body was being shipped out of the United States, but she did not know the destination.

“I don’t hold any anger toward that man,” Kenny Vaughn said Thursday. “I have compassion for him, whether he was drinking or not.”

Vaughn described his daughter as a conscientious driver, largely because of a wreck she was involved in when she was about 10 while riding with her mother.

“She hit the windshield (in the previous wreck),” he said. “From that day onward, Camille always wore her seat belt. The officers told us she was doing exactly what she was supposed to be doing. She had her seat belt on and was going the speed limit. She saw (Xicotencatl) at the last second and tried to avoid him. She was killed instantly. I thank God for that.”

Actually, police estimate Bullock was going below the posted speed limit of 60 mph on I-440 when the crash occurred. According to the accident report made public this week, Bullock braked and steered to the right but could not avoid the crash. Xicotencatl’s Malibu was traveling 82 mph.

Drivers’ calls to 911

It was just after 3:50 a.m. when a female motorist called 911 about the speeding Chevrolet Malibu.

“There was a car coming toward me on the wrong side of the road, and they are flying,” the motorist told an emergency dispatcher. “I pray to God they don’t hit anybody. I blew my horn, and they were flying. They were flying.”

A male driver called 911 just before 4:05 a.m.

“It’s probably too late now, but somebody is driving on the wrong side of 440,” the man told the dispatcher. “I literally, barely missed him. Is everything OK?”

The dispatcher told him that there had been an accident.

“Oh, my God,” the caller replied.

Love of laughter

Elizabeth Camille Bullock was born in Huntsville, Ala., and moved with her mother to Franklinton when she was about 5. She graduated with honors from high school in 2011 and attended Appalachian State University. She wanted to be a social worker. She left school before her sophomore year.

“She ended up coming home because she wasn’t used to being on her own,” Kenny Vaughn said.

She decided to enroll at Miller-Motte on Capital Boulevard. “She said, ‘I like doing makeup and hair, so why not go to Miller-Motte and get a degree from there,’” her father said.

Vaughn described his daughter as a boisterous, jovial young woman with a loud laugh. She was in the drama club in high school and entered lots of talent shows because she loved to sing.

“She took over a room when she walked in. She had the loudest laugh in the world. It got your attention,” Vaughn said. “My wife and I were constantly saying, ‘Camille be quiet!’”

Bullock was the granddaughter of retired Raleigh police Sgt. John Fisher.

“He’s hanging in there,” his son-in-law said. “He’s taking it harder than anyone.”

News researcher Peggy Neal contributed to this report.

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McDonald: 919-829-4533

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