A North Carolina Highway Patrol trooper lost control of his squad car, leading to a fatal crash that killed a motorist and another state trooper who happened to be the trooper’s brother, authorities said Tuesday.
Trooper John Horton was conducting a traffic stop just before 9 p.m. Monday near High Shoals Church and Goodes Grove Church roads in Rutherford County, about 60 miles west of downtown Charlotte, when the incident unfolded, officials said.
Trooper James Horton was responding to assist when he “lost control of his vehicle upon approaching the traffic stop” and “collided with the stationary patrol vehicle and subsequently struck Trooper John Horton and the detained driver who were standing along the roadside,” a Highway Patrol spokesman, Sgt. Chris Knox, said in a statement.
John Horton, a 15-year veteran of the force, was rushed to a hospital in nearby Spartanburg, South Carolina, where he died, Knox said.
The motorist, South Carolina resident Dusty Luke Beck, 26, was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said.
While conditions were clear in the region at 9 p.m., about an inch of rain had fallen earlier in the day, and temperatures had dropped into the low 30s by nightfall.
Any untreated highways could have been made slick by ice, although investigators couldn’t immediately determine whether weather or road conditions played any roles.
“The investigation is still underway and no conclusions have been made at this point,” Knox said in a statement.
James Horton “was taken to a local hospital for minor injuries and has since been released,” he added.
The commander of the Highway Patrol, Col. Freddy L. Johnson Jr., said in a statement: “Our hearts are broken with the loss of our friend and our brother, Trooper John Horton.
“For all involved in this tragic event the coming days will undoubtedly be difficult, but we are committed to stand alongside with them with our thoughts, prayers and unwavering support,” he said.
It wasn’t immediately known why the driver was being pulled over.
John Horton was married and had six children, said Lindsay LiCausi, the CEO of Back the Blue NC, a law enforcement support group.
Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement Tuesday: “We mourn the loss of two people tragically killed in a crash in Rutherford County last night including State Highway Patrol Trooper John Horton. We are deeply grateful for his service to the people of North Carolina.”
Steve Strouss contributed.