With a busy Christmas and New Year holiday travel week being predicted, the N.C. Department of Transportation is suspending most road and lane closures on interstates, U. S. and N.C. routes across the state now until Wednesday, January 2.
There will be some exceptions where construction conditions make it unsafe to open all lanes, such as where a bridge is being replaced, or lanes are being constructed or rebuilt. Drivers need to be alert for any lane closure signs.
To help make trips safer and cut back on distracted driving, NCDOT and GEICO are teaming up to provide “Safe Phone Zones” throughout the holiday and into 2019. While GEICO sponsors the initiative, NCDOT has designed all 58 rest areas across the state as Safe Phone Zones to encourage drivers to take advantage of their use.
These facilities are strategically located along major highways, so accessing them is very easy to allow drivers to get out of traffic and safely use their smartphones and tablets to access information or even to send text messages, which is illegal while driving in North Carolina and 46 other states. So, the highway rest areas not only serve as a place to rest and rejuvenate, but also to use cellphones. Even a glance at a cellphone while driving is considered distracted driving and could easily lead to a tragic crash.
Travelers can also make their trip better by checking on the status of their planned route in advance by going to DriveNC.gov to see if it will be clear. Once underway, a stop at one of the Safe Phone Zone locations provides a chance to check the route again to see if anything has changed.
DriveNC.gov provides road condition updates by route, county or region, updated 24 hours a day with possible changes, including the travel impact of a crash or bad weather. In addition to checking the DriveNC website, another option to get updates during daytime hours is to call 511 will get live operators to provide travel assistance.
Here are some additional tips for safe driving during the holiday season:
Leave early to get a head start, and travel at non-peak hours if possible, as the weekends before Christmas and New Year’s Day will be the heaviest traffic congestion periods for most of the state, especially on interstates such as I-95, I-77, I-85, I-40 and I-26.
Use alternative routes if possible to avoid traffic congestion;
Allow extra time for your trip, regardless of the route you choose;
To avoid drowsy driving, travel at times you are normally awake and take frequent breaks, taking advantage of the state’s rest areas;
Pay attention to your surroundings and other vehicles nearby, and avoid distracted driving; and
All drivers and passengers must be wearing their seat belts, it’s the law.
For real-time travel information, visit DriveNC.gov or follow NCDOT on Twitter.
38-year-old Jennifer Brooke Laws was arrested this morning (December 24) by Morganton Public Safety Officers. She's charged with felony counts of possession of schedule I controlled substance and failure to appear. The failure to appear count is from another county, which is not specified. Laws was arrested just after midnight this morning and placed in jail in Morganton under $43,000 secured bond. A court date is scheduled for January 14.
25-year-old Jesse Wayne Douglas of Buccaneer Way in Lenoir was arrested Sunday (December 23) by Lenoir Police Officers. He's charged with felony possession of methamphetamine. Douglas was incarcerated in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $10,000 secured bond. A District Court date is set for Thursday (December 27).
29-year-old Sean Michael Frazier of Meadowood Drive in Lenoir was arrested last Friday (December 21) by Lenoir Police Officers. He's charged with felony speeding to elude arrest and misdemeanor hit and run with property damage. Frazier was jailed in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $11,000 secured bond. District Court dates are scheduled for January 10 and January 16.
42-year-old Brandy Renee Kemp of Detzer Lane in Conover was arrested Sunday (December 23) by Granite Falls Police Officers. She's charged on a fugitive warrant from another state. Kemp is wanted in Florida on unspecified charges. Following the arrest, Kemp was confined in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $250,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance is scheduled for Thursday (December 27).
41-year-old Corey Allen Hicks of Nuckholls Drive in Morganton was arrested last Friday (December 21) by Burke County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with felony first degree statutory rape.
According to a news release issued over the weekend, last Thursday (December 20), the Burke County Sheriff’s Office responded to a residence regarding allegations of sexual misconduct between a juvenile and an adult. Initial reports indicated that the minor child had been sexually assaulted by Corey Allen Hicks of Morganton.
The Sheriff's Office investigated the complaint and arrested Hicks Friday morning shortly before 11:00 at his residence. He was taken before the magistrate where he was charged and received a $100,000 secured bond. He remained in jail as of earlier today (December 24), a District Court appearance is scheduled for Thursday (December 27).
47-year-old David Todd Martin of Lucia-Riverbend Road in Stanley, was arrested by Lincoln County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with 27 felony counts of obtaining property by false pretense.
Martin is accused of making purchases on the credit account of McHansa Trucking Company of Mount Holly, NC at an auto parts store in Denver between April 12, 2017 and December 7, 2018. The unauthorized purchases were discovered by the trucking company during an audit of their books and with the assistance of the auto parts store that identified the suspect.
Martin was placed in the Harven A. Crouse Detention Center under a $135,000 secured bond. He will have a first appearance in Lincoln County District Court Thursday (December 27).
Antonio Hernandez Aparicio was arrested by authorities in Little Rock, Arkansas in connection to an incident that occurred in Catawba County. Aparicio is charged with second degree forcible sex offense and interfering with emergency communications.
The charges are in connection to an incident early Saturday morning (December 22). The Catawba County Sheriff's Office responded to a domestic dispute in the Catawba area in the eastern portion of the county. During the initial call deputies learned that the suspect fled prior to their arrival after he had allegedly sexually assaulted a member of the household.
Aparicio was being held in Little Rock pending extradition to Catawba County where he will face the charges.
31-year-old Laura Ann Stone of Horseshoe Bend Road in Hudson was arrested Thursday (December 20) by Hudson Police Officers. She's charged with felony possession of methamphetamine along with misdemeanor counts of possession of drug paraphernalia and simple possession of schedule VI controlled substance. Stone was detained in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $12,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled today (December 21).
Authorities in Iredell County have identified one of the suspects in connection to two home break-ins in Mooresville's Brawley School Road area.
The female suspect is Victoria Jaye Kistler. She was identified after the Sheriff's Office received numerous calls and emails in response to information released Wednesday (December 19) and reported by WHKY and by other media outlets. Kistler and an unidentified black male suspect were driving a blue Saturn two-door car.
Kistler is known to frequent the Charlotte area and could be as far south as Pineville. Arrest warrants have been issued charging Kistler with felony breaking & entering and felony larceny.
Iredell County Detectives are working with and exchanging information with authorities in Mecklenburg County and Cabarrus County where similar break-ins have occurred.
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Victoria Jaye Kistler should call the Sheriff’s Office at 704-878-3100 or call 9-1-1.
48-year-old Dennis Todd Marshall of Temple Hill Church Road in Granite Falls was arrested Thursday (December 20) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with felony counts of possession with intent to manufacture, sell, and deliver schedule II controlled substance and maintaining a vehicle, dwelling, or place to keep controlled substance. Marshall was jailed in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $30,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled Thursday.
44-year-old Bernard Edward Miller of Colonial Drive in Statesville was arrested last Saturday (December 15) by Iredell County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with communicating a threat of mass violence on educational property.
According to a news release issued today (December 21), on November 16, 2018, Miller called West Iredell Middle School, and spoke to school staff regarding what he perceived to be a bullying incident. During this phone conversation, according to the news release, Miller mentioned bringing a gun to West Iredell Middle School and “handling the problem himself”. The Sheriff's Office was made aware of this threat.
The case was assigned to the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office Threat Assessment Investigator, Dallas Hicks. Detective Hicks reviewed the report and subsequently obtained a warrant for arrest for Bernard Edward Miller for the offence of communicating a threat of mass violence on educational property.
Miller was arrested and received a secured bond of $5,000. A District Court date is scheduled for December 31.
25-year-old Hugo Carrillo and 31-year-old Omar Carrillo, both of Rustic Road in Mooresville, were arrested on December 11 by Iredell Co. Sheriff’s Officers on felony drug charges. They were each charged with felony courts of trafficking methamphetamine by possession, possession with intent to sell or deliver a schedule VI controlled substance, possession of marijuana, possession of cocaine and maintaining a dwelling to sell a controlled substance.
According to a press release issued today (December 21), events leading to their arrests began when Iredell Co. Narcotics Officers received information about drug activity at the suspects’ residence in southern Iredell County. Investigators gathered information and obtained evidence, leading to a search of the residence. The search turned up 638 grams of methamphetamine with a street value of $159,500. Also found were 1,538 grams of hydroponic marijuana with a street value of $30,760 and approximately 5.4 grams of powder cocaine with a street value of $1,350. Items consistent with drug packaging and other paraphernalia were also found, including digital scales and plastic baggies.
The suspects were identified as Omar Carrillo and Hugo Carrillo. They are being detained at the Cabarrus Co. Detention Center with bond for both suspects set at $250,000, secured. A District Court date in Cabarrus County was scheduled for January 9. No Iredell County court dates are currently listed.
The suspects, who are from Mexico, are not U.S. citizens. They are being held on Immigration detainers.
25-year-old Russell Monroe Dunn, Jr. of Lenoir will spend more than 15 years in prison after being sentenced in a federal drug case. Dunn was sentenced to 188 months in prison and five years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray announced the sentencing earlier this week.
According to court records, in April 2018, law enforcement arrested Dunn after responding to a service call at the Comfort Inn at 1273 Burkemont Avenue, in Morganton. Law enforcement recovered from Russell’s hotel room five firearms, ammunition, body armor, two kilograms of methamphetamine, and more than $18,800 in cash.
Dunn has 17 prior felony convictions, including a conviction for Assault with a Deadly Weapon on a Government Official; Fleeing to Elude Arrest; Possession with Intent to Sell a Controlled Substance; and Breaking and Entering a Place of Worship.
Court records show that Dunn’s mother and co-defendant, Carol Dunn, was also a member of the drug trafficking ring. Carol Dunn has pleaded guilty to a drug conspiracy charge and is currently awaiting sentencing.