Plumber pleads guilty to murder in crash that killed Clayton day care worker :: WRAL.com
Smithfield, N.C. — A plumber will spend at least 10 years in prison for killing a day care van driver in a head-on collision three years ago while he was impaired by medication, authorities said.
Seth Charles Tracy, 40, of Holly Springs, pleaded guilty Wednesday to second-degree murder and driving while impaired in the Nov. 6, 2018, crash that killed Martha Darlene Peterson and was sentenced to 10 to 13 years in prison.
Tracy worked for Bizzy Bee Plumbing at the time, and his work van crossed the center line on Barber Mill Road and slammed into a day care van, authorities said. Moments before the crash, a number of drivers called 911 to report a truck swerving across the road.
Peterson, 39, of Kenly, worked for Kids Country of Clayton. At least five others, include several children, were injured.
State Highway Patrol troopers determined Tracy was impaired at the time of the crash, noting he was falling down and falling asleep while in a patrol car and then at the Johnston County jail, authorities said. A blood test found both methadone, which is used to treat opioid addiction, and generic Xanax in his system.
Video from a dashboard camera inside the plumbing van shows it crossing the center line on Barber Mill Road more than 20 times before the crash. Many of the 50 vehicles seen in the video, including a school bus and three other day care vans, had to drive off the two-lane road to avoid being hit, authorities said.
Peterson also pulled to the right side of the road to avoid a collision but was unsuccessful, as Tracy’s van was completely in her lane at impact, authorities said.
Tracy’s co-workers told investigators that he was impaired at work so often that the company hired someone to drive him to job sites, authorities said. The dashboard camera video confirmed that another employee allowed Tracy to drive off from a job shortly before the crash, authorities said.
Bizzy Bee Plumbing President Robert Schwachenwald apologized two days after the crash, saying he was “devastated” by Peterson’s death. But he insisted that the company didn’t allow impaired employees to drive.
“We randomly drug test our employees and have records to show this. If we were notified of Mr. Tracy’s condition … he would never had been behind the wheel of our vehicle,” Schwachenwald said in a statement at the time.
Tracy’s driving record included 10 previous crashes and 10 convictions for speeding, authorities said.