08/01/07 — Woman gets probation in hit-and-run

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Woman gets probation in hit-and-run

By Lee Williams
Published in News on August 1, 2007 1:46 PM

A 72-year-old LaGrange woman was ordered to serve probation and surrender her driver's license Tuesday after she pleaded guilty to a hit-and-run accident that killed a Goldsboro man on Election Day 2006.

Carol Lane, who was charged with hit-and-run and failure to report an accident in the death of 47-year-old Andy Anderson, appeared before Wayne County District Court Judge Les Turner to answer the charges.

Ms. Lane was accused of fatally striking Anderson with her 1992 Buick LeSabre as he crossed the median on U.S. 70 East on Nov. 7. His body was found the next day by a passing motorist near Elroy Fire Department.

Ms. Lane, who said she did not know she had hit Anderson, continued home. Her car was found two days later by a Wayne County sheriff's deputy at Madison's restaurant, with its front end damaged.

Ms. Lane stood before the judge, with her son, Jeff, at her side.

She waived her right to have an attorney represent her in the matter.

Wayne County District Attorney Branny Vickory then laid out the state's case. Vickory told the judge that Ms. Lane while traveling in the passing lane on U.S. 70 East when the left side of her car struck Anderson and knocked him into the median.

"He died instantaneously," Vickory said.

Deputy Lt. Carter Hicks found Ms. Lane's vehicle at Madison's while she was dining with friends. Her vehicle had extensive front end damage, a broken headlight and windshield.

Ms. Lane was questioned, but told authorities she thought she had hit a sign.

"She never denied this, but she said she didn't know that she did this," Vickory said.

Ms. Lane apologized to the victim's family. Tears rolled down her cheek and she cried as she spoke.

"I didn't know that I hit him," Ms. Lane said. "If I would have known, I would have stopped. I'm sorry."

Highway Patrol officials said it was dark and rainy on the evening of the accident. Anderson was wearing dark colored clothing and was carrying beer at the time of the accident. An autopsy report from the State Medical Examiner's Office in Chapel Hill showed that Anderson's blood alcohol content was .20 at the time of his death. The legal limit is .08.

That information was not introduced during the 30-minute hearing. Vickory said the judge never asked for it.

Ms. Lane's son Jerry died at the age of 32. As a mother who has lost a son, Ms. Lane said she would never wish that kind of harm on anyone.

Investigators questioned why Ms. Lane did not report the Nov. 7 accident.

According to state law, all motor vehicle crashes must be reported if they involve a fatality, a non-fatal personal injury, property damage of $1,000 or more or property damage of any amount to a vehicle seized.

Anderson's mother, Jean Anderson, and his sister, Karen Utley of Fayetteville, also attended the hearing.

Ms. Utley said she doubted Ms. Lane's story. She said she would never believe that Ms. Lane thought she hit a sign.

"It was on television and in the news," Ms. Utley told the court. "She knew they were looking."

In a plea agreement, Ms. Lane pleaded guilty to misdemeanor hit and run resulting in injury and/or death. The second charge was dismissed.

Vickory said he didn't want jail time, but said he believed that Ms. Lane should lose her license over the incident.

The victim's family agreed.

"We hope that she will not be allowed to drive again," Ms. Utley said. "We don't want anybody to go through what we went through."

Jeff Lane also agreed that his mother should lose her license.

"My mother takes nerve medication and pain medication for her back," Jeff Lane said. "She also takes medication for acid reflux."

Turner ordered Ms. Lane to serve five years probation, pay a $250 fine and $110 court costs. He also suspended Ms. Lane's driving privileges indefinitely.

"I'm not saying you won't get a license again," Turner said. He said the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles would give her a mental and physical evaluation to determine if she is fit to drive again.

He ordered Ms. Lane to surrender her driver's license and told officials to destroy it.

Vickory said he was satisfied with the outcome.

"All you can hope for in something like this is that the road can be safer," Vickory said after the trial. "I think her not driving is the way to make the highway safer."