Highlands police chief charged in crash killing child - FOX Carolina 21

Highlands police chief charged in crash killing child

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Police Chief Bill Harrell (Source: highlandsnc.org) Police Chief Bill Harrell (Source: highlandsnc.org)
HIGHLANDS, NC (FOX Carolina) -

The North Carolina Highway patrol confirmed a police chief is charged in a fatal accident claiming the life of a child.

Troopers said a ladder fell off a truck traveling on U.S. 23 and the driver pulled over to retrieve it. A car behind the truck stopped to allow the man to get the ladder, troopers said.

Highlands Police Chief Bill Harrell was operating a truck behind the car and didn't notice the vehicle stop, crashing into the back of it. Troopers said the truck's bumper pushed into the back of the car and a child, approximately 12 years old, in the back seat was injured.

The child passed away at the hospital two days after the collision.

Troopers said neither drugs nor alcohol were factors in the crash.

Harrell was charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle and failure to reduce speed. The driver of the truck from which the ladder fell was charged with failure to secure load and false information to officers.

Harrell's first court date is set for Aug. 28.

He has been a member of the Highlands police force since 2005.

Patrick Taylor, the mayor of Highlands, issued the following statement on behalf of the town:

After the release of an accident investigation by the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, the district attorney’s office has issued a misdemeanor death by vehicle charge against Highlands Police Chief Bill Harrell. He was recently involved in an auto accident that resulted in the tragic loss of life.

The North Carolina death by vehicle charge is made when a driver is issued a motor vehicle infraction or misdemeanor related to fatal traffic accidents. Chief Harrell was not charged with the criminal felony charge of death by vehicle that is charged in cases involving  impairment and criminal negligence.

The town has consulted with legal and professional advisors concerning the charges and Chief Harrell's status. Whether found guilty or not guilty by the courts, this charge will not affect his professional certification or standing as a law enforcement officer. Bill Harrell will continue to serve as the Highlands Police Chief. 

I ask for your continued prayers of healing for everyone impacted by this tragic event.

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