LUMBERTON — A Robeson County man has been arrested and charged with causing an accident that killed two Wilmington teenagers in February.
Broderick Lamont Jones, of Proctorville, was arrested Tuesday and charged with two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of felony death by vehicle, driving while impaired, reckless driving, and driving the wrong way, according to Erich Hackney, an investigator with the Robeson County District Attorney’s Office. His bond was set at $222,500.
Killed in the Feb. 6 accident were Dana Michelle Wilson, 18, of the 200 block of Bluff Circle in Wilmington, and Ryan Michael Menke, 18, of the 100 block of Mendenhall Drive in Wilmington.
“I’m just very glad that something’s been done,” said Teddi Wilson, Dana’s mother.
She understands that the police and the District Attorney’s Office were waiting for Jones to get out of the hospital before charging Jones, Wilson said.
“He was in there for a very long time,” Wilson said. “Honestly, I’m surprised he survived. Maybe God was giving him a second chance.”
The accident took place on U.S. 74 in Robeson County at about 12:59 a.m. The teens were in a 2005 Ford Focus and traveling west on U.S. 74 near N.C. 41 when their vehicle was hit head-on by a 1989 Oldsmobile being driven by Jones. Wilson was a student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
According to a statement by Hackney, tests showed Jones’ blood alcohol concentration was twice the legal limit.
Contributing factors against Jones relative to the collision included driving the wrong way, operating a vehicle in erratic, reckless, careless, negligent or aggressive manner, alcohol use, excessive speed, use of improper lane, and inattention. The investigation found no contributing factors on the part of Wilson or Menke.
“This has been an especially long and difficult case which resulted in the senseless death of two great kids who were only 18 years old,” Hackney said. “They had their whole lives to look forward to together, which was taken in a split second.”
The investigation revealed that just after midnight on Feb. 5, Jones, after leaving a Super Bowl party with friends, entered U.S. 74 by accessing a west-bound exit ramp instead of an east-bound entrance ramp, according to Hackney. A witness and his 7-year-old son, who were returning home from Holden Beach to High Point, encountered Jones as they were traveling west on U.S. 74 near Pembroke. The witness swerved at the last second to avoid a head-on collision with Jones. Jones continued traveling east for several miles before meeting a vehicle being operated by Dana Wilson, who was traveling in the correct lane. The distance from when the witness encountered Jones to impact was about nine miles.
The investigation further revealed that Wilson and Ryan Menke had just left their families in the Wilmington area and were on their way home to Mecklenburg County. As Wilson crossed over the N.C. 41 overpass in Lumberton, her vehicle was struck head-on by Jones. The combined speed at impact was about 150 mph.
Wilson and Menke were killed instantly.
“In all my years of experience in working traffic crashes, this was one of the most tragic of them all, especially when two young lives were lost,” said Lumberton police Officer Cedrique Bridges, who investigated the accident with Hackney.
Jones’ driving history includes three 30-day suspensions for DWI offenses, two in Robeson County — in 2000 and 2008 — and the third in Scotland County in June 2016. He also has one driving while license revoked offense in 2008. His criminal history includes convictions of assault inflicting serious injury, possession with intent to sell or deliver cocaine, and possession with intent to sell or deliver marijuana.
Jones’ half-brother, Walter Lee Bethea, who owned the vehicle Jones was driving at the time, was arrested on Aug. 3, according to Hackney. Bethea was charged with permitting a motor vehicle to be operated without having financial responsibility. He was placed in the Robeson County Detention Center under a $1,000 bond. His case is set for trial on Sept. 6 in Robeson County District Court.
“My heart goes out to the family members of this horrific incident,” Police Chief Mike McNeill said. “We work diligently to keep our roads safe from those who want to drive after consuming some kind of impairing substance.”
T.C. Hunter can be reached at 910-816-1974.