NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David says charges are pending after a crash that killed 13-month-old James Andrews III along River Road. According to state troopers, Andrews was buckled into a child restraint behind the driver's seat.
The crash happened on River Road at Snow's Cut Park around 9:30 a.m. Sunday. It appears a white Yukon XL approached a left hand curve, traveled off the road and slammed into a tree.
Authorities are treating this incident as a criminal investigation. District Attorney Ben David said it is protocol for both he and the Assistant Director of the Department of Social Services to respond to the scene anytime there is a child fatality.
"We are going to be working in a team-like fashion between the investigators and prosecutors and members of department of social services to uncover the truth of this terrible incident and see what charges are appropriate," David said.
Trooper Bryan Phillips says since the crash, a number of people have come forward to provide witness statements with the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office. Phillips said investigators will attempt to retrieve the vehicle's black box to get a clearer picture of what happened during the crash.
Investigators are asking anyone who may have seen the crash or the white-colored Yukon XL driving earlier that day on River Road from Sanders Road to Snow Cut Park to please call the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office or 911.
They are looking for anyone who may have witnessed bad driving, or anything that drew their attention to the vehicle, including speeding, failure to maintain lane control or running off the road.
"They shouldn't assume that just because there's other folks around that they don't have something relevant to add and we would request that they come forward as well," David encouraged.
Melissa Henderson, the child's mother and driver of the Yukon XL, was rushed to New Hanover Regional Medical Center. She was later taken to the UNC Hospital at Chapel Hill for second and third degree burns and a fractured pelvis, according to Highway Patrol Troopers. She was scheduled for surgery Monday. She's listed in good condition as of Tuesday, according to UNC hospital officials.
When asked if alcohol appeared to be a factor, Trooper Phillips said, "We are not in a position to release that information at this time. Additional information will be forthcoming."
Her daughter, two-year-old Jacquelyn Andrews, was also rushed to New Hanover Regional Medical Center. She was buckled into a child restraint in the right rear seat at the time of the crash.
River Road was closed in both directions for more than eight hours while Highway Patrol Troopers investigated. Both lanes were reopened by 6 p.m.
Highway Patrol Troopers said several witnesses stopped to help. The vehicle engulfed in flames moments after three Good Samaritans pulled Henderson out, including Jay Muxworthy. Muxworthy was taken to Chapel Hill and is recovering from second degree burns to his face, hands and arms. He's listed in good condition as of Tuesday, according to UNC hospital officials.
Muxworthy's family released the following statement: