PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A passenger involved in a fatal car accident in Pender County earlier this month is now charged with murder. Investigators say Lance Powers grabbed the steering wheel of the car, forcing it into oncoming traffic.
The accident killed one woman and injured four other people.
Tuesday morning, Powers, 26, went straight from the hospital to court. He made his first appearance in Pender County Court on a stretcher.
“We have determined that what happened on October 12 was no accident,” District Attorney Ben David said. “It was murder, and we are charging Mr. Powers with that and nothing less.”
Powers is charged with second degree murder, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, assault with a deadly weapon and battery on an unborn child.
Mary Fontana, who is pregnant, was in one of the cars involved in the accident with her two children. Her mom says she cannot believe the crash may have happened on purpose.
“It was very scary, and the pain that was inflicted on my family and on the other people’s family that were in that vehicle is very upsetting, because it wasn’t just an accident,” Lynn Fontana said.
Jennie Moore, 27, who was driving Powers, died in the crash. Investigators say they believe Powers grabbed the steering wheel after he and Moore got into a fight.
Lynn Fontana says there is no reason for anyone to be that reckless.
“I was very shocked and very scared thinking there’s people on the road that could do this kind of harm to somebody like this,” she said. “It could have happened to anybody. It didn’t have to be my daughter and her kids, it could have been anybody.”
Powers is expected to be back in court November 1. For now, he was will stay in a facility in Raleigh that can attend to his injuries.
Everyone else involved in the accident has been released from the hospital.
As for the battery of an unborn child charge, David says the law was adjusted recently to clarify that the defendant does not have to know a person is pregnant to be charged.
Fontana, 19, is six months pregnant and suffered serious injuries in the crash. Relatives say they will not know if the baby suffered any injuries until it is born.