The North Carolina Highway Patrol report on the June 5 car wreck between a motorist and a Wrightsville Beach police vehicle didn’t issue traffic citations to either driver, with the report showing that the police vehicle’s speed and the other driver’s failure to yield right of way both contributed to the accident.
At the time of the collision, a black-and-white Wrightsville Beach police SUV driven by Officer T. Wetherington was traveling 50 mph heading east on Causeway Drive with the vehicle’s blue lights on and no audible sirens. The officer was responding to a burglary alarm.
The driver of the other car, Ashlyn Brooke Holder of Pleasant Garden, N.C., was turning left out of Seapath Estates Drive when the two vehicles collided in the left, eastbound lane of Causeway Drive. The impact of the collision caused the 2014 Volkswagen that Holder was driving to do a 270 degree turn, leaving the vehicle facing west in the right, eastbound lane. The 2013 Chevy police SUV came to a stop in the right, westbound lane, facing east.
Under both North Carolina law and town of Wrightsville Beach policy, police vehicles can exceed the speed limit when responding to emergencies and aren’t required to sound the siren to exceed the speed limit.
Each vehicle had a passenger, as Wetherington had a police department recruit in the SUV. Each vehicle sustained $8,000 in damage.
The highway patrol report said that both drivers contributed to the traffic crash, with Wetherington exceeding the speed limit of 35 mph and Holder of failing to yield the right of way. Neither were cited.
Wrightsville Beach Police Department Capt. Jason Bishop said that town police officers don’t use sirens when responding to burglary calls to prevent police from alerting suspects.
“Officers are trained to make silent runs with blue lights only to get through traffic so they won’t tip off a burglar,” Bishop said.
Police vehicles are insured through the North Carolina League of Municipalities, which will also investigate the collision.