A Buncombe, North Carolina (NC), couple who had been married more than 30 years experienced an almost unimaginable tragedy on the evening of February 24, 2018. Out for a shared motorcycle ride through the countryside southeast of Asheville, Roger and Judy Rector were struck head-on by a drunk driver. The collision killed the Judy Rector instantly and sent Roger to the hospital, where he spent several days on life support.



The fatal crash happened on Garren Creek Road in the town of Fairview. North Carolina State Highway Patrol troopers charged the at-fault driver with multiple felonies, including driving while impaired, serious injury by vehicle, death by vehicle and reckless driving. Authorities also publicly named the drunk driver as 38-year-old Robert Andy Smith.

In North Carolina, felony charges for injuring and killing other people while driving require evidence that the at-fault driver is operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The reckless driving law, section 20-140 of the North Carolina Statute, is less-specific. It reads,


  1. Any person who drives any vehicle upon a highway or any public vehicular area carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others shall be guilty of reckless driving.
  2. Any person who drives any vehicle upon a highway or any public vehicular area without due caution and circumspection and at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property shall be guilty of reckless driving.


Garren Creek Road through Fairview is a winding, two-lane rural highway for most of its length. Staying in one’s lane and avoiding a crash requires drivers to stay alert and in control at all times. Getting drunk before taking the wheel practically guarantees crossing the center line and colliding with vehicles coming from the opposite direction.

Sadly, that is what happened on the Saturday evening when a DWI accident left Judy Rector dead and Roger Rector fighting for his life. As motorcycle riders, they likely would have suffered terribly in any collision, but this one most likely need not have occurred if the at-fault driver had stayed sober or handed his SUV keys to someone else.

Once their grief allows them to do so, the Rector family should consult with a caring and experienced Carolina wrongful death attorney to discuss their options for holding the drunk driver financially accountable. All of the evidence collected to secure convictions on the criminal charges for DWI, inflicting injuries and causing a death can also be used to substantiate insurance claims or purse a civil lawsuit. Working with a dedicated plaintiff’s attorney will help the family do that.