A drunk driving crash near Wilmington, North Carolina (NC), left three innocent people dead and three others seriously injured. The four-vehicle chain-reaction wreck happened close to the intersection of U.S. 17 and NC 94 a little west of Ocean Isle Beach. 



State Highway Patrol troopers responded to the incident at around 8 pm on February 16, 2018. They determined that 31-year-old Michael Anthony Johnson of Wilmington caused the fatal collision by swerving into a left turn lane on U.S. 17 and hitting a passenger van. That initial impact knocked the van across lanes of oncoming traffic, and two other vehicles hit the van.

The two occupants of the van died after being transported to Grand Strand Hospital across the state line in South Carolina. Multiple news outlets have identified the deceased couple as Francis Carlisle and Leroy Carlisle, who were both 82.

A passenger in one of cars also died from her injuries. She was publicly identified as 59-year-old Peggy Pigford, who passed away at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

Three other people went to hospitals with injuries. News stories did not reveal whether they were treated and released or remained hospitalized through the weekend.

Authorities have charged Johnson, the pickup truck driver, with one count of felony death by vehicle. Additional charges are pending, but it was necessary to issue an arrest warrant and request extradition because he was also taken to a South Carolina hospital.

Making the existing felony charge generally requires gathering evidence that the person charged was driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs. A state trooper who gave a statement to the press acknowledged that Johnson appeared to be under the influence of alcohol.

Drunk driving takes a terrible toll on North Carolina roads and highways. During 2016, the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles recorded 11.264 alcohol-related crashes. Those DWI incidents resulted in 402 deaths and 8.189 injuries.

Such carnage is why my Carolina wrongful death law attorney colleagues and I take pride in only suing, never defending, drunk drivers. We also work on behalf of drunk driving victims because, as the details provided above about this DWI crash on U.S. 17 outside of Ocean Isle beach show, such cases can be very complicated. Individuals who lose loved ones or suffer injuries at the hands of drunk drivers should be able to focus on healing while a dedicated team of plaintiffs’ attorneys focus on holding the at-fault driver accountable.