Alleged impaired driver crashes into historic Wilmington National Cemetery

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WILMINGTON — A man has been charged with impaired driving in an overnight wreck that damaged the brick wall and several headstones at the Wilmington National Cemetery.

A vehicle slammed into the wall of the national cemetery at 2011 Market St. just after midnight Wednesday, according to Wilmington Police Department Spokeswoman Linda Rawley. Police say the suspect — 23-year-old Tirron Omar Bright — exited the vehicle and ran from the scene. Officers apprehended Bright a short time later.

On Wednesday morning, caution tape and orange cones blocked off a gap in the brick wall surrounding the national cemetery. Four headstones, marked for veterans who perished between the 1960s and 1990s, were knocked over and laid among the bricks scattered in the grass that reached from the wall past seven rows of  graves.

A vehicle struck a brick wall of the Wilmington National Cemetery at 20th and Princess Streets, causing damage to headstones. Photo by Hannah Leyva.
A vehicle struck a brick wall of the Wilmington National Cemetery at 20th and Princess Streets, causing damage to headstones. Photo by Hannah Leyva.

The Wilmington National Cemetery is administered by the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Many of the more than 6,000 headstones in the five-acre cemetery date back to the Civil War.

Bright has been charged with driving while impaired and misdemeanor hit-and-run. He was booked at the New Hanover County jail under a $5,000 secured bond. He is scheduled to make an appearance in New Hanover County District Court on Thursday.