FIRST ON 3 UPDATE: Deputy charged in crash that killed motorcyclist


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Submitted: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 9:21pm
Updated: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 4:23pm
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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A Brunswick County deputy is facing charges after a crash Monday afternoon that killed a motorcyclist.

The accident happened on Old Ocean Highway and Shingle Tree near Calabash.

Highway Patrol says the deputy, who has not yet been identified, is charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle and failure to yield.

Highway Patrol says the victim is Thomas Varney of Virginia.

Alcohol and drugs are not believed to be involved.

46 Comments

  • Donna B says:

    Helmet or not, a motorcyclist struck by a car or truck has relatively little chance of a good outcome. Maybe no one should be in judgement of rider or deputy. I’m a rider myself. My daughter and SIL are both in law enforcement and Tom was also a friend of ours. Tom was a wonderful and kind person and a responsible rider. You would be happy to know, he was a literal organ donor as well. As I understand, his injuries were devastating and he was not necessarily killed by head injuries. I can hope that most of those organs he so valiantly donated could be salvaged to help others. I’m not sure what the situation was exactly but I feel for both parties as lives will be ruined on both sides of the situation. Prayers to Tammy Varney and Tom’s family as well as the officer involved. This should serve as a reminder to us all to slow down, pay attention to everything around us and be responsible and courteous drivers. After all, mistake or not, we have to live with the consequences of our actions.

  • sister inlaw says:

    Tom is my Brother In-law. My husband is a Former Deputy Sheriff. We all need to get the facts first. We are all having a hard time dealing with this horrific accident. He has a family that is devastated. His wife, children and grand children will not be able to have him in there life anymore. Please don’t be so quick to judge either party. The Deputy will have to live with this the rest of his life.

  • Dont worry says:

    I am a biker and i ride a sport bike which cops hate. How is it fair yhar cops run at high speeds even if there not on a call. They break the rules and get away. Its sad that he wasnt paying attention to the road instead he was on his lap top or texting as i seen with my own eyes before. Hopfully they so the right thing. He still killed the man and needs to pay the price

  • Guest28451 says:

    Was the motorcycle rider wearing a helmet? If so then I honestly question if the deputy should have been charged with death by motor vehicle at all, because I know that there are enough cases out there of no death charges being filed in cases where the individual who died failed to wear a seat belt and thus contributed to their own death. Ive worked in an ER and also was in EMS for many years and sadly we had a 2 word term for motorcycle riders who didnt wear a helmet and were involved in bad accidents.. “Organ Donors”.. Anybody foolish not to wear a helmet and ride on a vehicle traveling at speeds of 55-60mph the math is simple. A rider thrown off their bike at speed will impact with the following impact Speed X Weight of individual = pounds of force exerted upon the victims body when they impact the ground. So a person traveling at 60 MPH and weighing 200lbs will impact with the force of 12000 lbs.. Im sorry yes the human body can withstand signicant force but 12000lbs on the skull tends no to end well at all.

  • Guest55 says:

    I am very sorry for your loss. I know Tammy through working with her at the Health Department.

  • Tammy says:

    I am sorry about this whole accident,but talking about the speeding it is not just BCS it is more of the State Troopers,they all act like they are on a speedway running laps never with lights or nothing.when they coming flying from nowhere riding your butt and you can’t move over for traffic when you finally get over he fly’s by gos up a little turns around and back the other way.The state troopers have flew by me on my way to walmart when I get up turn into walmart there they are 2 or 3 of them sitting there talking lights off cars running,just yesterday was at work on hwy 17 and 2 different ST flew by at different times later on one even flew by a BCS like he was sitting still and was out of sight in no time no lights,nothing. The State Troopers are the more aggressive over bearing drivers,don’t get me wrong I have the most respect for any law enforcement for their job and I appreciate them for that job,but they need to respect there citizens on the streets and highways as well,and extra bonus think of all the gas that could or would be saved.

  • Guest28422 says:

    Dontworry – you said “Its sad that he wasnt paying attention to the road instead he was on his lap top or texting as i seen with my own eyes before.”

    You don’t know what he was doing. He was responding to a domestic call, doing his JOB, when a tragic accident happened. It could have been your family he was responding to. It could have been you driving and made a mistake that claimed someone’s life. None of us are perfect.

    For you to make assumptions like this is ignorant and hurtful to everyone involved.

  • ERIC HANDEL says:

    you are an idiot. first of all, mass times speed is momentum, not force. second, you dont need a helmet if you dont crash. if someone else causes you to crash they should be held responsible.
    third. i ride. i wear a helmet. i have been in an emergency room after a crash. it always seemed strange to me that hospital staff has more respect for failed suicides and drug overdoses than someone riding a bike. keep up the good work there, medicos, this is why i dont have an organ donor card. i’m sure after you cut off my $800 leather jacket for a leg injury you would hesitate to go after my organs, eyes, or WALLET.

  • Guest243 says:

    He was in fact wearing a helmet, sorry you wasted so much time giving useless facts that had nothing to do with this particular accident.

  • Cheryl Ann Whittle says:

    Dear Sister-In-Law:
    I agree with you. This is so very tragic, and I know his wife and family are broken hearted. But we were not there, and we do not know all the facts. Please do not judge, I feel certain that this will be hard on all involved. My prayers go out to Tom’s wife, and family. Tom was a precious man, loving husband, and devoted father, grandfather and uncle. Godspeed Dear Tom! You are so missed.

  • Sandra Varney says:

    Yes he was wearing a helment. He was a very safe driver. It was clearly the officer’s fault. He was a good friend and father and grand father to my son and grandsons. The officer should be charged with vehicle homicide. We would have been if we had caused something like this.

  • Timber says:

    I respect your views but I must point out that the DOT does NOT “approve” helmets. This is a misconception, the manufacturers “self certify” and then just apply the DOT insignia.

  • Qua says:

    The courts are bleeding us and the insurance system dry to get their cut to pay themselves and the multitude of police and public defender agencies. 3 million cases per year go through NC Courts and there’s only 10 million total state population. 1/3 of our people go thru the courts doors and pay $$$ every single year.

  • Copsniffer-Sniffer says:

    Yes, when an collision you cause KILLS someone, there is no question at all that you should be charged.zzinan

  • GuestMedic123456 says:

    First: The motorcyclist in this accident WAS wearing a DOT (Department of Transportation) approved helmet.

    Second: This is a truly unfortunate incident for all parties involved. My thoughts and prayers go out to both the families of the motorcyclist and the Deputy.

    Third: I am a career medical professional in EMS (for the past 10 + years with 6 of them being in critical care air medical transport). I have seen more unfortunate accidents involving motorcycles than I would like to recall and the people at fault range from other drivers, the motorcyclists, and wildlife. I am going to be quite frank. For you to go spouting off about whether or not the motorcyclist was wearing a helmet and generalizing that motorcyclists involved in accidents are “organ donors”, insensitive, rude, and unprofessional. You do not know the facts about this accident. We do not need a physics lesson on motor vehicle crashes, as most know the science behind speed, velocity and rate of deceleration.

    Fourth: If your involved in EMS you need to have more respect for your profession and for the victims of this accident. I was appalled and embarrassed for you after reading this post. You said, “If the motorcyclist wasn’t wearing a helmet, then the Deputy shouldn’t be charged”. Are you serious? Do you know how ignorant you sound. No need for it. I hope in the future you read what you type before hitting the submit button.

    Last: My family is very good friends with the motorcyclist that was killed in this accident. My family was on vacation with the motorcyclist and his family at the time of the accident. So rather than making assumptions of what happened and what one was wearing or not, why don’t you wait to hear it from the professionals at the North Carolina Highway Patrol who are investigating this, before posting “crap” as you did.

    Sincerly,
    EMS Professional

  • dont worry says:

    If he killed me on my bike my family be living large.

  • Thankful2BCSO says:

    Well said …these men and women leave their families and put their life on the line everyday AMD are expected to be held to a standard of perfection. No human is perfect and everyone makes mistakes…people should not be so quick to judge just because the person involved holds a certain title. Prayers going up for both families and all of our law enforcement and first responders!

  • mannieGuest says:

    As far as that law veh passing with blue lights on and later cuts them off on farther down the road, did ya every think that maybe the call had been cancelled and the ofcr was told to disregard? DID YA? DID YA? And the fact that you had to pull over to the right to let the emergency veh by, what the heck! A driver should be in the RIGHT hand lane driving anway unless he is passing, and when he does pass, he needs to get the heck back OVER to the right, just in case. I forgot to mention all about the pay. I can assure you,law enforcement is not in it for the money! The satisfaction of helping others. seeing little children beam with pride at a DARE graduation, or excited to watch a K9 demo at their school or receive a plastic badge to wear or pencils to use in school with Sheriff Office on it. NOW, that is good pay! How about the times they hold to comfort a loved one who has just come home to find a loved one dead, maybe from a medical reason or from a self inflicted gun shot wound, or maybe had been MURDERED! Or a child who has just drowned in Grandpas swimming pool. These are things I bet never even has crossed your mind that law enforcement deal with every day. These are things that do not leave their minds at the end of the call or day. Things stay in their minds for YEARS. In the Bible God says, BLESSED ARE THE PEACE MAKERS. I pray EVERYDAY/EVERYNIGHT that God will return my husband and son home safely and all the others men and women too.
    I understand that the deceased was from Virginia. He may not have known our North Carolina laws in regard to riding a motorcycle, he may not have had his headlight on or his helment on. We see riders alll the time coming up from SC who do not have helments on because in SC, it is not a law that you have to wear a helment. We DO NOT know all the facts so lets know judge. I do offer prayers and ask for comfort for his family but I also do the same for the Deputy. The officer is a kind and good Christain man.

  • Guest2279865 says:

    Virginia laws are the same regarding headlight and helmet. But even if they were not it does not change what happened. This was a tragic mistake. Stop the arguing and start praying for all involved.

  • Angie says:

    Apparently he had a helmet on, you need to get the facts too. I agree that the calls could have gotten called off but it happens so frequently, I doubt it. I don’t think that the majority here are bad mouthing the officer, most of us are just stating our observations.
    I for one have no problem pulling over for an officer but if he doesn’t have his lights on, and comes up on my blind side at 90 miles per hour, how can I know he is even coming?
    Sorry that you took this so personally mannie as you are obviously a very angry person.
    We continue to pray for both families with heartfelt sympathy. It is a tragedy for all involved.

  • Louis says:

    I don’t know the deputy involved, but was a close friend of the gentleman who died as a result of this tragic accident. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to my dear friend’s family, to the deputy and his family. As of now, this appears to be just a horribly tragic accident. And, should the investigation later lead to some other conclusion, both families still deserve everyone’s sympathy and understanding. Unfortunately nothing will bring my friend back and nor lighten the terrible suffering this deputy must be going through. Again, my sympathy to all involved.

  • Grand Ole Party says:

    Listen up sweet-pea, go back to school, learn English, come back and try again.

  • shannon says:

    “Speaking the truth?”
    I hope that one day you will need those “Good for nothing” Deputies and your mind will be changed. They are working hard putting their life on the line to keep you safe and respond to this counties emergencies. You never know what kind of call they are going on o if at the time they sped past you(Granted u should have already been out of their way) that the call could have been cancelled. You are childish and should find another hobby instead of bad mouthing innocent people and steriotyping the entire BCSO. That deputy has to live with this already, im sure he does not need your help to feel any worse. ACCIDENTS HAPPEN!

  • Jennifer says:

    I just happened to be driving about a hundred feet behind
    the driver of the bike. He was not speeding nor
    was the deputy. The deputy just didn’t see the
    biker which unfortunately happens all the time.
    I am saddened for all families involved. Just
    because someone made a bad decision while
    Driving does’nt make him a bad person. It was clear
    That this was a tragic accident that i unfortunately
    witnessed.

  • Speaking the Truth says:

    They drive fast behind you thinking they are going somewhere , they think they own the roads, flashing they blue lights and soon as they pass you they cuts the lights off, What kind of so call deputies does Ingrams have ,good for nothing,that’s what they are for.

  • mannieGuest says:

    I can tell by the first two comments, SOMEBODY has no respect for law enforcement.First, where did it say that the DEPUTY was speeding? Did it ever occur to you that the victim could have been or maybe there was no speed involved at all? Things happen, accidents happen, to US all. I can tell you what kind of deputies the Sheriff has. He has hard working,dedicated men and women, not only to the citizens of this county but to the community, to the school system where your children go to school,to the churches in our county, to the families of deceased citizens and to the deceased while they are being carried to their final resting place,to the elderly and other citizens who are scared to enter their homes when they find their front doors kicked in, and especially the abused little children whose parents are strung out on dope and alchol when they come home from school,especially if they find MAMA beat half to death by their no good for nothing daddy, and the children themselves who are sexually molested by maybe a parent or family member or by a complete stranger. Or how about the young mother who is ABOUT TO COMMIT SHOPLIFTING because she has no food/milk for her baby and she has a split second to reconsider because a young deputy is standing near by and can tell by her face what she is about to do and offers money to pay for her items. Or how about the deputy who extends monetary means to another when the need arises, or the gallons of gas they put in vehicles on the side of the road which has ran out of gas in the hot summer time or the cold of winter, maybe with an elderly couple or a young mother of several children or change a flat tire. There are men and women out there who put their lives on the line EVERYDAY AND EVERYNIGHT ’24 – 7′ – Just for PEOPLE like you! REMEMBER THIS THE NEXT TIME YOU HAVE A WRECK OR A FLAT TIRE. Oh, did I mention the RAIN!

  • BCSO Deputy says:

    Back off if you don’t know the facts. This had nothing to with speed. It was simply a mistake, which everyone makes. The deputy involved is a good Christian man. Therefore unless you have never made a mistake, you need to keep your ignorant comments to yourself. Right now prayers need to be lifted up for the man who was killed and his family and also for the deputy is having to live with this terrible tragedy.

  • Angie says:

    I am so very sorry for the victim of this senseless accident, but it’s been a long time coming. During the eight years I have lived here I have seen numerous police vehicles speeding up and down HWY 17 without lights on and apparently no where to go!! NOT ONCE, but MANY TIMES!! I’ve had to collect myself a few times when police cars have gone speeding by me, on my blind side and attempting to move over, with my blinker on, I felt like I could have been killed. Sheriff, it’s time to do something about this. Before someone else dies.

  • Johnny W. says:

    Notice the Misdemeanor charge… The reason being if the deputy is charged with a felony (like we would be) and is convicted he would loose his job. Heaven only knows we would not want that!

    And they say justice is blind… It is as long as you are not part of the justice system…

    In summary IF the deputy is convicted of this crime he can go back to work as though nothing happened.

    Oh and here is the best part… If the deputy was on duty at the time of the accident, then the Sheriff’s Department can asert sovergein immunity which means the victim’s family could not recover any damages from the County!

  • 911Guest says:

    It’s a shame that people jump to conclusions like this without knowing anything about emergency services. (But first.. know that I am not a cop, but I do work in emergency services). I guess it’s just ignorance to the other side of the story that leads people to make rediculous statements like this. I’m not calling anyone ignorant in general, but before you refer to our law enforcement officers or any emergency workers as no good, worthless, etc.. spend some time volunteering in fire or EMS. Just because a call doesn’t qualify as a “lights & sirens” level upon dispatch, doesn’t mean its not an emergency to the person that called 911. The officer that just blew past you on Hwy 17 may be the only officer available in the south end of the county (and yes, that happens frequently) and now he has to get from Supply to Calabash. Now imagine you, or your mom, or your child are the one that called 911… do you want him to do 55 to get to to THAT call?

    The statement “it was bound to happen” is true, no argument there, it’s just odds. But you or I could be at fault in a motor vehicle accident today. So before anyone else talks smack about emergency workers, please consider some statistics.. Who is in more vehicular accidents in this county: trained emergency vehicle drivers getting to someone that needs help in a hurry, or regular everyday normal guy going about the same drive to or from work that he takes everyday?

    I feel for the family that lost a loved one too.. but let’s not turn this into a blame game.

  • Dude1 says:

    I am not really commenting on this accident, my prayers go out to both the everybody involved, but when you put a computer blocking your peripheral vision in police cars. Eventually it is going to lead to an accident, especially if you are using it while driving. This in itself should be against the law, I don’t care how much training you get it is not safe. Safety first, don’t compute and drive. This should be a study like texting and driving and see how many accidents have been caused by computing and driving. Seems like to me alot more cops are running off of the road or having accidents for no reason.

  • GuestAds says:

    Were you there when the accident happen? If not how do you know that he vision was blocked by his computer? I don’t see anything being report that he was using it. Can they find out if he was? Yes, everything is logged and they can go back and tell if he was. I worked 16 years with a company that provides the software that is used by some agents to Mobile Data. I have been asked numerous times to provide information about a unit’s use that has been involved in some type of accident. To my surprise I have never seen an officer’s accident caused by this in the ones I have had to check.

    So if you don’t know what you are talking about Shut UP…. I am sure that someone is already looking at the logs to see if he was. Also, in most states these logs are public records so if you don’t believe them you can take a look..

  • Guest28403 says:

    First off NC doesnt have LVN’s they have LPNs. Secondly unless you were responding as a member of an agency in Brunswick County you were not a 1st responder you were somebody who happened to come upon the scene and stopped to help (which is commendable as alot of people dont want to stop to assist). Not trying to be anal retentive but just trying to clarify what your situation was one way or the other and just curious as to why you would somehow misclassify your nursing license since only California and Texas I believe use that classification for non-RNs with 12-18 month diplomas.

  • Lisa says:

    those of you commenting should make sure you know the whole story before you beat this deputy down. I was the first person to respond to this accident (im a LVN) and speed was not a factor…it was a horrible accident in which this deputy was terribly upset for being at fault. My heart goes out to the bikers family…im a biker as well and it saddens me to lose a fellow biker. My heart and prayers also go out to this deputy and his family…losing someone is hard but all of you should consider how horrible it is to live with causing the loss of a life! Deputy “L”…..i know your heart is heavy with grief…know that you are in my prayers!

  • Angie says:

    Please don’t miscontrue my words, I am not saying that police should not respond rapidly to emergency situations. All I am saying is that if they are going to speed up and down Rt 17 or any other road for that matter, they need to have their LIGHTS ON!! Please give the rest of us half a chance. No one is saying they don’t want a rapid response from police. We just don’t want them speeding UNLESS they are going to an emergency situation. I have actually seen one officer speed up, put his lights and sirens on to get through a red light and then a mile or so later, turn light off and slow back down? Do they think that no one is watching? The sheriff needs to be made aware that this is happening all the time.
    My prayers are with both families. I know what it is like to lose a spouse and the father of my children. He was killed in a motor vehicle accident at the age of 43.

  • above the law says:

    you sir are being ignorant. The people you are attacking are not saying emergency workers or cops are no good and worthless. What they seem to be saying is very simple: some cops in this county, which i have witnessed, speed without their flashers on. Are you saying this is OK?

  • tEd Swim says:

    I am a personal friend of the victim of the bike crash I have ridden thousands of miles with Tom V he was an A-1 rider and respected law officers Please dont put blame on anyone it was a acccident I have lost my best friend lets let him go in peace!!!!

  • 12013 says:

    IF the cop is responding to a call and traveling above the speed limit, then it should be a “lights and sirens”. Traveling from Wilmington to Calabash on 17 a couple of weeks ago just after the sun set, I was passed at two completely different points by Highway patrol cars, both doing at least 90 mph, weaving in and out of traffic WITH NO LIGHTS ON. One even blew through a red light with traffic coming by slowing a little bit and flashing his lights briefly. Luckily, no accidents occurred, but this type of behavior is an accident waiting to happen and a preventable one. HOPEFULLY this is not the case this time. But obviously if it is not a “lights and sirens” call, then they should not be speeding. And if they kill someone because they are speeding without lights and sirens, then that is manslaughter and should be punished, just like anyone. Being a cop does not place them above the law.

  • no rules for the rulers says:

    This comment does not apply to this particular accident, but rather to the people commenting who seem to think a deputy can do no wrong.

    IF a cop is responding to a call and traveling above the speed limit, then it should be with “lights and sirens”. Traveling from Wilmington to Calabash on 17 a couple of weeks ago just after the sun set, I was passed at two completely different points by Highway patrol cars, both doing at least 90 mph, weaving in and out of traffic WITH NO LIGHTS ON. One came up behind me so quickly I could not get out of the way after passing and he just swerved to the right through the gap without slowing. NO LIGHTS.

    One even blew through a red light with traffic coming by slowing a little bit and flashing his lights briefly. Luckily, no accidents occurred, but this type of behavior is an accident waiting to happen and a preventable one. If it is not a “lights and sirens” call, then they should not be speeding. And if they kill someone because they are speeding without lights and sirens, then that is felony manslaughter (just like you or me would be charged with) and should be punished, just like anyone. Being a cop does not place them above the law.

  • 911guest says:

    It’s a shame that people jump to conclusions like this without knowing anything about emergency services. (But first.. know that I am not a cop, but I do work in emergency services). I guess it’s just ignorance to the other side of the story that leads people to make rediculous statements like this. I’m not calling anyone ignorant in general, but before you refer to our law enforcement officers or any emergency workers as no good, worthless, etc.. spend some time volunteering in fire or EMS. Just because a call doesn’t qualify as a “lights & sirens” level upon dispatch, doesn’t mean its not an emergency to the person that called 911. The officer that just blew past you on Hwy 17 may be the only officer available in the south end of the county (and yes, that happens frequently) and now he has to get from Supply to Calabash. Now imagine you, or your mom, or your child are the one that called 911… do you want him to do 55 to get to to THAT call?

    The statement “it was bound to happen” is true, no argument there, it’s just odds. But you or I could be at fault in a motor vehicle accident today. So before anyone else talks smack about emergency workers, please consider some statistics.. Who is in more vehicular accidents in this county: trained emergency vehicle drivers getting to someone that needs help in a hurry, or regular everyday normal guy going about the same drive to or from work that he takes everyday?

    I feel for the family that lost a loved one too.. but let’s not turn this into a blame game.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    but I am there frequently for business and travel through to SC.

    Not only does there be a tendency to speed, but cell phone useage and even laptops on the passenger seat all seem to provide distractions for officers who drive.

  • Wilmington Observer says:

    I’m saddened to think of what the family, in Virginia, is going through. My thoughts are, also, with the Deputy Sheriff, his family (at home and the agency).

    Wilmington Observer

  • DanD says:

    Hey Jack-scat;

    What kind of LE troll are you? What authority do you have telling ANYBODY to “shut up?” Are you some kind of relative or lover-boy of the POS code-enforcer was too busy NOT WATCHING THE ROAD to keep from killing an innocent motorcyclist?

    Paying attention to anything that distracts from the forward or side views of a motor vehicle WILL CAUSE ACCIDENTS! Dashboard computers do make people glance away, even for just a fraction of a second … which is long enough to stupidly kill people.

    Just ’cause you claim not to hear of this kind of computer crime don’t mean it ain’t so. Anyway, if you don’t like people making speculations about why this failed public servant killed an innocent person, then get off the website, or you STFU.

    As it is, you seem to be the only rube showing that you don’t know what you’re talking about. What wages is the LE union paying you to shill out your oppressive communications?

    DanD

  • Guest4 says:

    Get a life Johnny. Your comment is so full of inaccuracies and false statements it’s not even funny.

  • Guest28422 says:

    This was a tragic accident, and should be a reminder to all of us to watch out for motorcycles/mopeds, etc. Deputies don’t always get the appreciation they deserve, but are first to be criticized when something goes wrong.

    This kind of accident could have happened to any of us. We all need to pray for the victim’s family, the deputy involved, and everyone in law enforcement.

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