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DA: Trooper not at fault in deadly crash

District Attorney Ashley Welch has completed the review of the SBI investigation into the events of July 25, 2017, involving a motor vehicle accident with Trooper Hunter Hooper of the North Carolina Highway Patrol which occurred in the line of duty and resulted in the deaths of Robert Lee Nelson and Esther Matilda Nelson of Florida. 

The District Attorney’s Office has determined based upon all available evidence including the statements of several eyewitnesses to the events, dash camera video, surveillance camera footage from nearby businesses, an accident reconstruction, and all other evidence that Trooper Hooper did not commit a crime nor any infractions in this case. 

According to a press release from the DA's office, the evidence surrounding the events of July 25, 2017, shows that Trooper Hooper was on duty and patrolling the area of U.S. 23 in Haywood County when he activated his blue lights and siren in an attempt to stop a vehicle. Several vehicles on U.S. 23 saw Trooper Hooper traveling at a high rate of speed while his blue lights and siren were activated.  A vehicle driven by Robert Nelson pulled out in front of Hooper’s marked patrol vehicle causing the crash. This crash resulted in the death of both the driver Mr. Nelson and his passenger Mrs. Nelson. The evidence shows that Mr. Nelson’s failure to yield to Trooper Hooper is the cause of the crash, absolving Trooper Hunter Hooper of criminal liability. 

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