RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – One Knightdale police officer is dead following a crash on Interstate 540 near Knightdale that happened early Sunday that closed roads until Sunday afternoon.
At approximately 2:41 a.m., North Carolina State Highway Patrol responded to a crash involving two police officers.
The officers were responding to a single-vehicle accident when they were hit from behind by a Mercedes. The incident involved a drunk driver and happened in the eastbound lanes near mile marker 22, officials said.
According to the release, Dedric Romero Privette, 40, of Knightdale was driving a black 2011 Mercedes Benz S550 traveling east on I-540, when he approached the crash scene and failed to reduce his speed.
Ryan Hayworth, 23, a three-month veteran of the Knightdale force, and member of the United States Army, was killed in the collision, Police Chief Lawrence Capps confirmed.
Additionally, Hayworth’s training officer, Cody Hagler, was also seriously injured in the incident and is currently being treated at WakeMed for life-threatening injuries, CBS 17’s Mackenzie Stasko confirms.
“Ryan’s loss in an indescribable tragedy for our department and our community,” Chief Capps said. “The pain of his death felt the most by his family, friends, and those who knew him best. As we began the process of healing, we ask that you join us in a season of prayer for all of those who have been forever touched by this heartbreaking event.”
The Knightdale Police Department also draped black fabric over one of its cruisers and placed a bouquet of flowers that was dropped off at the station on the windshield.
Hayworth was sworn into Knightdale Police Department on July 21. He was a long-time resident of the area and graduated from East Wake Academy.
The motorist involved in the earlier accident was identified as Michael Routh Melugin, Jr., 45, of Cary, according to NCSHP.
CBS 17’s Joseph Holloway has learned that one of the police vehicles caught fire in the crash. At approximately 8:45 a.m. Knightdale firefighters arrived on-scene.
Alcohol is confirmed to be a factor for Privette, who hit the officers, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol confirms. Charges are pending, a Knightdale press release said.
The road was closed at exit 20, Buffalo Road, until about 2 p.m. Sunday.
Furthermore, CBS 17’s Mackenzie Stasko has confirmed Hayworth’s father, Tim, is the former Zebulon Police Chief.
Holloway was on-scene and CBS 17 was live throughout our morning shows. Mackenzie Stasko will have further updates later.