RALEIGH — A highway patrol official is saying all information regarding the November death of a pedestrian on I-74 will soon be available.
Additionally, the dashcam footage from the patrol car which struck and killed 78-year-old Romie C. Bobbitt seems to back the assessment of the highway patrol that it was an unavoidable accident on the part of the trooper driving the car which struck the man.
At the request of The Mount Airy News, the N.C. Highway Patrol released the dashcam footage from Trooper Darlene H. Holt’s 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe last week.
Witnesses from the night of the incident have stated Holt was driving quickly and passed their vehicle just prior to hitting Bobbitt on the evening of Nov. 21, among other claims.
The footage shows otherwise. The recording from Holt’s on-board camera begins almost two minutes prior to Holt’s vehicle striking Bobbitt. According to Sgt. Michael Baker, spokesman for the highway patrol, dashcams in cruisers are always running and recover footage from a few minutes prior to when the trooper turns on his or her blue light.
In the nearly two minutes of footage preceding the collision, Holt passes no other vehicles, and does not appear to be traveling at an excessive rate of speed.
As Holt’s vehicle encounters Bobbitt’s vehicle, which was parked on the shoulder with its hazard lights blinking, Bobbitt comes into view. The man, carrying a piece of paper with a license plate number written on it, seems to attempt an expeditious crossing in order to reach a trooper performing a traffic stop on the other side of the road.
Bobbitt never makes it across. Instead, Holt’s vehicle strikes the man.
Bobbitt enters the picture from the patrol car’s right less than a second before Holt’s vehicle strikes and kills Bobbitt.
There are also no other vehicles pictured in the immediate vicinity. Despite the claims of witnesses and reports from the scene on the night of the incident, no other vehicle can be seen swerving to miss Bobbitt prior to the trooper’s vehicle striking the man.
Baker said the dashcam footage was released to show his department “has nothing to hide,” and he said more information will soon be available.
The highway patrol’s reconstruction team is working on its investigation of the incident, according to Baker. That team investigates all incidents involving a trooper.
Thus far, the department has released only a short report regarding the incident. However, Baker said the reconstruction team’s report will include information from the car’s on-board GPS system and black-box, all witness accounts and any other relevant information.
He said that report is expected to be complete and released by the end of January.
Holt, a 19-year veteran of the highway patrol, remains on administrative duty as a result of the incident.
Andy is a staff writer for The News and can be reached at (336) 415-4698.