RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A North Carolina truck driver has been charged in a deadly crash that killed a Wake Forest teacher last week.
Michelle Simone Barlow, 42, of Wake Forest, died in the chain-reaction crash last Tuesday on U.S. 1/Capital Boulevard.
Barlow was driving a Sienna minivan that was hit from behind by a dump truck driven by Donald Wayne Caulder Jr., 29, of Laurinburg.
The impact caused Barlow’s van to slam into the back of a tractor-trailer that was in front of, according to the North Carolina Highway Patrol. Her minivan was destroyed.
On Tuesday, Caulder was taken into custody by the North Carolina Highway Patrol, according to officials, who announced the charges on Wednesday.
Caulder, who was driving a 2004 Freightliner dump truck towing a bobcat, is charged with misdemeanor death by a motor vehicle and failure to reduce speed.
Investigators believe that Barlow was either stopped or slowing at the time of the collision.
Recently released 911 calls reveal more about the hours leading up to that fatal crash. At least three drivers called to report the dump truck was driving recklessly in the two hours prior to the fatal crash.
“I’m on I-40 following a fiercely drunk driver who’s crossing into all kinds of lanes in a work truck,” said one caller.
Another said, “He has run off the road probably a dozen times in the last three miles. You got to get somebody over here before he hits somebody.”
Highway Patrol confirms the calls started when that truck was in Durham and continued in Cary and in Raleigh.
“He’s headed into Raleigh, so can you get me somebody over here. He’s going to kill somebody,” said the third caller.
In the entire county that Tuesday afternoon, Highway Patrol says they had only eight troopers on duty.
They say they just don’t have the resources to respond to every reckless driving call and the truck was a moving target, making it much harder to stop.
“He’s running people off the road. Young black male. I’ve already given them the license plate number a few times. I’m going to try to get in front of him now,” a caller is heard on the 911 calls.
Barlow taught English at Wake Forest High School. She started working in the Wake County Public School System in January of 2015. She was an English teacher at Panther Creek High School from January until June of last year. She began teaching at Wake Forest High School in August.
“She was a wonderful person and will be greatly missed by her students and the staff here at Wake Forest High School,” Principal Patti Hamler said in statement posted online last week, adding, “Our thoughts go out to her friends and her family.”
Students who spoke with CBS North Carolina expressed shock and disbelief.
“[It] feels weird inside. It hurts a little bit to see somebody in the halls and the next day they aren’t there and there’s emptiness in your heart a bit,” said Noah Beard.
Tyler O’Brien added, “Everybody at school was really heartbroken. The whole school. A bunch of my friends were crying and I tried to comfort them.”
Following his arrest, Caulder was released under a written promise to appear at his scheduled Wake County court date of Tuesday, June 28, 2016.