Home Government UPDATE: Alcohol, speed factors in Catawba fatality

UPDATE: Alcohol, speed factors in Catawba fatality

SPECIAL REPORT TO BLOWING ROCK NEWS. By Master Trooper Jeffrey S. Swagger, North Carolina Highway Patrol. March 12, 2019. NEWTON, NC – On 13 February 2019 at approximately 1:14 a.m., the North Carolina State Highway Patrol (NCSHP) responded to a fatal collision in Catawba County on McDonald Parkway at the intersection of 12th Ave Drive NE (Spencer Road).  The collision involved a passenger car and a Catawba County Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicle.

A 2003 Honda Civic was traveling west on 12th Ave Drive NE.  The deputy was traveling north on McDonald Parkway in a 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe.  The vehicles collided in the intersection.  The Honda ran off the roadway and collided with a fence.  The patrol vehicle came to rest on McDonald Parkway.

The Honda was operated by Hernan Cortez, 27, of Hickory.  He was pronounced dead at the scene.  Deputy Anthony M. Stobbe was transported to Catawba Valley Medical Center with minor injuries and was released that morning.  There were no other passengers.

The NCSHP Collision Reconstruction Unit responded to the scene to assist with the investigation.  The intersection was closed for approximately 8 hours and the NCDOT set up a detour.

The deputy’s vehicle was not equipped with a dash or body camera, there were no cameras covering the intersection, and no private recordings have been located despite a canvass of the area.

The speed limit where Cortez was driving on 12th Ave Drive NE is 45 mph.  The speed limit where Stobbe was driving on McDonald Parkway is 50 mph.  Based on the Collision Reconstruction Unit report, the estimated speeds of Cortez’ vehicle are 65 mph as original traveling speed and 65 mph at impact.  The estimated speeds of Stobbe’s vehicle are 62 mph as original traveling speed and 45 mph at impact.

Test results for Hernan Cortez indicated an alcohol concentration of .18.  Test results for Deputy Stobbe revealed no alcohol or impairing substances.

The report indicates contributing circumstances on the part of Cortez as alcohol use and exceeding the authorized speed limit.  The report indicates a contributing circumstance on the part of Stobbe as exceeding the authorized speed limit.

After consultation with the Catawba County District Attorney’s office, no charges will be filed.

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