By Imari Scarbrough Staff Writer
December 31, 2013
The Wadesboro Police Department is investigating a Christmas Day crash that resulted in several injuries and the death of a baby.
The Hoopers were heading back home to Gaston County from Hamlet on U.S. 74 West near Morven Freight Line Road when they crossed the center line and hit Clay and Saundra Davis’ Dodge Intrepid, which was going eastbound at 4:01 p.m., according to WPD Chief Thedis Spencer.
Upon arrival, the Wadesboro Fire Department found that the engine compartments of both vehicles were on fire, but extinguished them before it reached the passenger compartments, according to Spencer.
Alexis Hooper, 13 months old, was the only fatality in the crash. Alexis’ father, Alexander, was driving the Volkswagen Jetta with his wife Kelsey in the front passenger seat. Alexander’s younger brother Caleb, 19, was riding in the back seat with Alexis.
Kelsey Hooper escaped the front passenger area of the car. Spencer said that two Good Samaritans helped her to the side of the road and helped the rest of the Hooper family and Clay Davis escape from their vehicles before first responders arrived. Saundra Davis was initially trapped inside her Dodge and was freed by Anson Rescue and airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.
The baby was airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center but died Christmas night. Her three relatives were taken to Anson Community Hospital and later transferred to CMC-Main. As of 4:15 p.m. Monday, Alexander Hooper was in good condition and Kelsey was in fair condition. Caleb was no longer listed as being in the hospital.
Clay Davis was taken to Anson Community Hospital and was soon released. Saundra was airlifted to CMC-Main and was listed in fair condition as of 4:20 p.m. Monday. The two were heading from Richfield in Stanly County to Anson County for a family gathering when they were in the accident.
“This tragedy is one felt by all of us,” Spencer said on Monday. “It’s a terrible thing to lose a family member, especially on a day that is centered around being together with family. I want to let the families of all of those involved know that the officers of the Wadesboro Police Department send out our condolences and prayers to you. I also want to thank all of the good Samaritans who stopped to help, as well as all of the officers and first-responders who, when faced with a devastating tragedy, worked professionally and diligently to help these two families in their time of need.”
The WPD is still investigating the crash. Upon entering the Wadesboro city limits, the Jetta gradually drifted into oncoming traffic in the eastbound travel lanes of Highway 74 before hitting the Davis’ Dodge, according to Spencer. What caused Hooper to drift is still a mystery, though Spencer said that alcohol, narcotics, pharmaceutical impairments fatigue were not a factor (both drivers passed tests for impairing substances). Investigators also believe that the Hoopers were traveling at or near the posted speed limit of 55 M.P.H. while the Davises were driving at approximately 45 M.P.H. The WPD also found that baby Alexis was properly fastened in an approved child passenger safety (CPS) seat that appeared to be properly installed in the vehicle.
The WPD has met with the District Attorney’s Office and presented the evidence and findings to the DA. They are waiting to hear a decision from the D.A. about whether to file charges against either driver.
Supporters have made a Facebook prayer chain for Alexis Hooper and her family atwww.facebook.com/pages/Prayer-chain-for-the-hooper-family.