Friday, August 12, 2022

Suspected drunken driver injures former Wilmington officer, kills officer’s wife and two others

The wreck killed four people, but not the man responsible for the it.

BRUNSWICK  COUNTY – A former Wilmington police officer is one of two survivors in a four-car wreck that occurred over the weekend. Three people, including the officer’s wife, were killed in the accident. Another survivor, believed to have caused the incident, has been arrested.

According to the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, the accident happened at approximately 8:00 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 16.

At the time, former Wilmington Police Department Lieutenant Ed Pigford and his wife Penny, 51, were driving North on U.S. Highway 17, about eight miles north of the South Carolina border.

Ahead of the Pigfords, Leroy Carlisle, 82, and his wife Francis, 82, were waiting in a u-turn lane on the median of the highway in their van. As the Carlisle waited, they were rear-ended by a pick-up truck, driven by Michael Anthony Johnson, 31, of Wilmington.

The force of the impact pushed the Carlisles’ van into northbound traffic, where Pigford’s vehicle struck them. A fourth vehicle, driving behind the Pigfords, also wrecked.

According to Highway Patrol, Penny Pigford was transported to New Hanover Regional Medical Center. The other five people involved in the crash were taken to Grand Strand Hospital in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Penny Pigford, Leroy and Francis Carlisle all died from their injuries.

According to Trooper Corey Blackwell, Highway Patrol was able to get a warrant for felony death by motor vehicle, enabling South Carolina Highway Patrol to arrest Johnson. According to Blackwell, toxicology results from the hospital have not been received yet, but Highway Patrol believes Johnson was drinking prior to the accident.

Blackwell said Johnson would eventually be extradited to North Carolina, where he will be tried by Brunswick County District Attorney Jon David’s office.

Pigford was released from Grand Strand Hospital.

According to Jennifer Dandron, spokeswoman for the Wilmington Police Department, Lt. Pigford retired in November of 2017 after a 30-year career.

“We are sending him our deepest condolences and are keeping his family in our thoughts,” Dandron said on behalf of the WPD.

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