What exactly happened and who was responsible for a Nov. 21 fatal accident involving a N.C. Highway Patrol trooper remain unanswered questions more than a month after the incident near Mount Airy.
The known facts are these: An SUV driven by a veteran trooper hit a man, Romie Clark Bobbitt, 78, of Lambsburg, Va., as he was walking across Interstate 74. The impact killed Bobbitt; his body was knocked 213 feet.
The patrol says the trooper, Darlene H. Holt, was not speeding. She is now on administrative duty. The report on the crash that said Holt was not speeding was signed by a sergeant who got to the scene late in the night, and he did not speak to witnesses then or later.
That’s a problem, and while it might be understandable that the patrol sticks up for its own, a man is dead, and witnesses don’t agree with the official story that the trooper wasn’t speeding.
One witness, Michael R. Cooke of Greensboro, said in an interview with The News & Observer’s Bruce Siceloff that the trooper’s “brake lights never came on. The car didn’t dip or anything. It was just flat-out flying.” He and another witness say Holt zoomed past them just before Bobbitt was hit. Mike Cooke II, the other witness, said if Holt had not been speeding (his statement and that of the elder Cooke estimated her speed at 85 to 90 mph) she would have had time to avoid hitting Bobbitt.
This incident needs further investigation, and independent investigation, immediately.