Police have charged a Zebulon man with a fourth count of murder in connection with a drag-racing crash that killed four people and injured three others in Johnston County on Sunday.
Jimmy Pearce II, 37, was driving one of two cars that were racing on Simon Road near the Johnston-Nash County line at about 10:30 p.m. Sunday, according to the State Highway Patrol. Pearce lost control of his car, veered off the pavement and struck a group of people watching the race, the Highway Patrol says.
Pearce crashed into a tree after hitting the spectators and was arrested. He was initially charged with three counts of second-degree murder for the three people who died at the scene, Undra Montrell Taybron, 40, of Wilson; Carlton Ray Brooks, 42; and Garland Earp, 39.
Garland Earp’s nephew, Arrington Earp, 23, was also hit and died after being rushed to the hospital. State troopers charged Pearce on Tuesday with a fourth count of second-degree murder in relation to Arrington Earp’s death, said Sgt. V.E. Burton of the State Highway Patrol.
Three others were seriously injured in the crash: Ida Mae Rapa, 42, of Selma; Roncellis Marshall, 44, of Battleboro; and Larry Deans, 43, of Bailey.
Rapa was listed in critical condition at WakeMed in Raleigh on Tuesday morning. Pearce could be charged with a fifth count of second-degree murder if she dies, Burton said.
Pearce made his first appearance in court on Monday. His appointed attorney, Mike Reece of Smithfield, could not be reached for comment.
Police are still looking for the other driver involved in the drag race. As of Tuesday afternoon, no information had been released about the driver or the car.
The State Bureau of Investigation is helping with the investigation. SBI spokeswoman Teresa West said detectives are following up on additional leads with the Highway Patrol.
The Highway Patrol says Pearce was driving in the westbound lane on Simon Road, racing the other car that was in the eastbound lane. After the crash, the other driver drove away, as did some of the spectators who weren’t hurt, said Highway Patrol Sgt. J.C. Manning.
Some stayed behind and tried to help the people who were hit. Residents who live near the crash also came outside to see what had happened.
In a recording of a 911 call, a woman who says she’s a nurse tells a dispatcher that at least three people were dead. She said another had a compound fracture.
“I haven’t felt a pulse on three,” said the caller, whose name was not released.
She then starts talking to a male patient, telling him to be still. “You can’t get up,” she says. “You have a compound fracture, baby. Don’t get up.”
Officials have asked anyone with information about the crash to call the State Highway Patrol’s communication center at 919-733-3861 or its Johnston County office at 919-934-2186.