No charges will be filed in a February 13th fatal collision involving a Catawba County Sheriff's Office vehicle. 27-year-old Hernan Cortez of Hickory was killed in the crash.
The accident happened at 1:13 in the morning on the McDonald Parkway at the intersection with 12th Avenue Drive NE (Spencer Road). Cortez, driving a 2003 Honda Civic was traveling west on 12th Avenue Drive NE and the patrol vehicle, a 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe driven by Deputy Anthony Stobbe was traveling north on the McDonald Parkway. The vehicles collided in the intersection. The Honda ran off the roadway and hit a fence. The patrol vehicle came to rest on the McDonald Parkway.
Cortez was pronounced dead at the scene. Deputy Stobbe was transported to Catawba Valley Medical Center with minor injuries and was released later that morning. There were no passengers in either vehicle.
The Highway Patrol investigated the crash and released its findings Tuesday (March 12th).
The report said the speed limit on 12th Avenue Drive NE is 45 mph and the speed limit on the McDonald Parkway is 50 mph. Based on the Highway Patrol's Collision Reconstruction Unit's report, Cortez’s vehicle was traveling at an estimated 65 mph and Deputy Stobbe’s vehicle at 62 mph prior to the collision. The report indicated that Cortez's vehicle did not slow before impact, but the Sheriff's Office vehicle slowed to about 45 mph before the crash.
Test results indicated that Cortez had a blood alcohol concentration of .18. Test results for Deputy Stobbe revealed no alcohol or impairing substances.
Cortez's alcohol use and excessive speed by both drivers were considered to be contributing factors, but no charges will be filed in the case.
Sheriff Don Brown said in a news release following the report "We are thankful to the NCSHP for their thoroughness in the investigation of this tragic incident. We continue to keep all affected in our thoughts during this hurtful time."
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