NEWTON — A trooper with the N.C. Highway Patrol pulled a woman and child from a burning car crash that killed the driver.
Around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 23, trooper K.L. Huss was on stationary patrol in Catawba County on U.S. Highway 321 near mile marker 35 and clocked a northbound 2020 Dodge Charger traveling over 100 miles per hour in a 65 mph zone. Moments later, another trooper observed the same car in excess of 130 mph as it was weaving through traffic.
As Huss attempted to overtake the violator near mile marker 40, he came upon a cloud of dust and debris. Huss quickly realized the vehicle had lost control, ran off the road to the right, crashed through a guardrail, went down an embankment, collided with a tree, and had begun to catch fire, according to the N.C. Highway Patrol.
Huss immediately ran down the embankment, determined the driver was unconscious or possibly deceased while discovering a small child and woman trapped in the wreckage and screaming for help. Huss freed the child from the mangled car secured in a booster seat in the rear seat and handed the child to a bystander who assisted in moving the boy to a safer area. At this time, the car was smoking heavily. Without regard for his safety, Huss returned, crawled into the car, cut the woman free who was wearing a seatbelt in the front passenger seat, and pulled her into the rear of the car. As he pulled her out the back window and to safety, the car became engulfed in flames. Huss was unable to remove the driver, the highway patrol reported.
The driver, Andre Darrell Lee, 27, of Grover, South Carolina, succumbed to his injuries at the scene. The 5-year-old child and 23-year-old female were transported by EMS to Catawba Valley Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries. The child was later transferred to Brenner Children’s Hospital in Winston-Salem for observation.
A preliminary investigation indicates the driver may have been attempting to flee due to illegal contraband in the vehicle, the highway patrol stated.