Update: Man pleads guilty to involuntary manslaughter in deaths of toddler, newborn

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Matthew Blair Deans
Matthew Blair Deans

UPDATED: Wednesday 11:44 a.m.

A Wilmington man charged with a wreck in Pender County that killed a Charlotte couple’s children has pleaded guilty on the day of his arraignment to two counts of involuntary manslaughter.

He was sentenced to more than a year in prison and ordered to serve three years of supervised probation.

Matthew Blair Deans, 29, was indicted Monday by a Pender County grand jury on charges of involuntary manslaughter of an unborn child and involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of 2-year-old Gentry Dobbs Eddings III and his infant brother, Reed Eddings, according to an indictment.

The children died following a wreck that occurred at about noon Saturday, May 23, when a commercial box truck rear-ended an SUV on U.S. 17 at Sloop Point Road, according to N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper R.D. Hendrickson.

Deans, who was driving the truck, reportedly failed to reduce speed and hit the rear of an SUV stopped at the light, which forced the SUV into two vehicles ahead of it, Hendrickson said. All three vehicles hit were occupied by members of Eddings family.

Gentry Dobbs Eddings III died on the way to New Hanover Regional Medical Center, Hendrickson said. His mother, Hadley Eddings—who was 37 weeks pregnant at the time of the wreck—was taken to the hospital where she had an emergency Cesarean section.

She and her newborn, Reed Eddings, were then transported to North Carolina Children’s Hospital in Chapel Hill, where the infant later died, Hendrickson said. The father of the children, Gentry Dobbs Eddings II, and other members of the Eddings family suffered minor injuries in the wreck.

Deans was originally charged with two counts of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle and failure to reduce speed. He was booked at the Pender County Jail and released under a $10,000 bond.

Deans is scheduled to make his first appearance on the involuntary manslaughter charges in Pender County Superior Court on Wednesday, according to a news release from District Attorney Ben David. Attorney Lawrence Shotwell is representing Deans.

Read previous coverage:

Man charged in weekend wreck that killed toddler, newborn

Donations for family who lost toddler, newborn in Pender County wreck exceed $175,000