NC State Highway Patrol community mourns death of trooper in Wayne County crash

Wayne County News

PIKEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — The North Carolina State Highway Patrol is grieving the loss of one of their own.

Trooper Nolan Sanders died Friday night after driving off a highway and crashing in Wayne County.

“When you see Trooper Sanders’ face, you can just see the kindness there, the heart of who he is just by looking at him,” said Sgt. Chris Knox of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol. “This is a trooper you’d want in your community.”

Sanders was a five-year veteran of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.

The 28-year-old was driving northbound on Interstate 795 Friday night near Pikeville when he ran off the road, according to authorities.

Officials said he hit a concrete culvert in the ditch around 7:15 p.m.

First responders pronounced him dead at the scene.

“At a time where things are so difficult for our state and our nation, we just lost somebody who was a good, positive part of the good that’s going on right now,” Knox said. “It’s going to hurt. It’s going to hurt a lot of people.”

It’s not clear what caused Sanders to run off the road. Officials said he was on duty at the time but wasn’t responding to a call.

“It’s a difficult time, it is. Every trooper, every person who works for the highway patrol is a member of our family. Their families are members of our family. This is tough,” Knox said.

Sanders leaves behind a wife and young child.

“We want to honor him. We want to honor his family,’ Knox said.

Knox said they’re already thinking of how they can honor Sanders while still following the statewide gathering restrictions.

A state executive order prohibits more than 10 people to be in a single space together. No more than 50 people are allowed to be at a funeral.

People are also expected to follow social distancing requirements.

“There’s going to be a respectful and safe way to do it and we’re going to have to come together and figure that out in the next couple of days, because he deserves that,” said Knox.

The SHP Collision Reconstruction Unit is handling the ongoing investigation.

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