The man charged in connection with the death of a day care van driver Tuesday afternoon was remorseful as he appeared in a Johnston County courtroom for the first time on Wednesday.
Seth Tracy, 38, of Holly Springs, is facing charges that could put him behind bars for more than 15 years.
Tracy is charged with felony death by motor vehicle and DWI in the crash.
The crash was reported around 4 p.m. along Barber Mill Road at Cleveland Road.
A work truck owned by Bizzy Bee Plumbing was driving on Barber Mill Road and “crossed the centerline and struck [a] passenger van head-on,” the North Carolina State Highway Patrol said in a news release.
The passenger van that was struck head-on was from Kids Country of Clayton.
A man who called 911 after witnessing the crash told the dispatcher that there were children in one of the vans.
“The van’s full of children, the one van. There’s people walking but obviously they’re scared to death,” he said.
The dispatcher then asked the caller how many people were hurt.
“I’m not sure, man. I’m standing back at a distance. There’s a lot of upset people (screaming in the background). There’s five youngins coming to me right now. They’re all walking, they’re holding their heads and where the seat belts and stuff snatched them, got scratch marks across their necks,” he said.
Officials confirmed there were several elementary school-age children on the van at the time of the crash and said that they were either not hurt or suffered minor injuries.
The caller then told the dispatcher that one person was trapped in one of the vans.
“The van that’s in the ditch right here, the lady is pinned in the vehicle and she’s non-responsive…she’s pinned up in there, man. Y’all need to get somebody over here ASAP,” he said.
Martha Darlene Peterson, 39, of Kenly, who was driving the van with children, died at the scene, authorities said.
In his court appearance, Tracy had to be reminded of his right to remain silent after being read his charges as he told the court he was in a methadone treatment program.
“Am I gonna be able to go out and hire an attorney or am I gonna be stuck here?” he asked the judge. He also asked for a reduction on his $1 million bond. It was denied.
The director of Kids Country of Clayton declined comment.
The president of Bizzy Bee Plumbing, Inc. released a statement regarding the crash on Friday morning:
I want to personally apologize, along with my family and my employees, here at Bizzy Bee Plumbing, Inc about the tragic accident that injured children and sadly took the life of Martha Peterson.
This has been very hard on us and we can only imagine the pain the families and friends of Martha are feeling.
We absolutely, do not, allow employees to drive under the influence. We randomly drug test our employees and have records to show this. If we were notified of Mr. Tracy’s condition Monday, he would never had been behind the wheel of our vehicle.
We are truly sorry and we continue to pray for everyone involved”
Tracy is due back in court Nov. 15 for a probable cause hearing.