Chapel Hill News

Graham man charged with DWI, felony death in fatal I-85 crash

Robert Mace
Robert Mace

A Graham man faces felony death by motor vehicle and other charges in a fatal crash that closed part of Interstate 85 for more than five hours Tuesday evening.

Robert Jason Mace, 40, appeared in court Wednesday afternoon via a video feed from the Orange County Jail.

Mace is also charged with DWI, felony serious injury by motor vehicle, careless and reckless driving, failure to maintain lane control and improper passing, according to the State Highway Patrol. He also is charged with misdemeanor failure to appear on prior charges.

He is being held in lieu of $250,000 bail and is scheduled to appear again Monday at a bond review hearing.

A passenger in the van, Lisa Nicole Parker, 35, of Mebane, died when the van Mace was driving clipped a stopped tractor-trailer and then hit a pickup truck on southbound I-85 near N.C. 86 in Hillsborough around 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, the patrol reported.

Spokesman Lt. Jeff Gordon said Mace was driving the van when it ran off the right shoulder of the interstate and struck the rear of a tractor-trailer. The van then continued on, crashing into a Toyota pickup truck and causing it to overturn. The van’s front-seat passenger was killed.

Mace and the pickup’s driver were taken to Duke Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Gordon said.

Witnesses described the van operator as driving recklessly before the crash. The State Bureau of Investigation has not released the results of a blood-alcohol test given to Mace, Gordon said.

Traffic in the southbound lanes was detoured in Durham County, but vehicles caught just behind the accident scene and past the last possible exit were trapped for more than five hours, waiting for the accident debris to be cleared. Troopers opened one lane of traffic around 10 p.m., Gordon said.

Corrections records show Mace has been convicted multiple times of driving while his license was revoked and has a 1998 conviction for driving while impaired.

He also is facing charges of driving with his license revoked and failure to yield in Alamance County, court records show, and speeding, driving with his license revoked and failure to appear in Rutherford County.

Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926, @TammyGrubb