Another charge filed against truck driver in Forest Hill church tragedy

Matthew Deans
Matthew Deans Pender County Sheriff’s Office

The truck driver involved in an accident north of Wilmington on Saturday that killed a Charlotte 2-year-old has been charged with a second count of misdemeanor death by vehicle after the family’s newborn baby also died.

The additional charge was filed Tuesday, bringing the total number of charges against driver Matthew Deans to four: failure to wear a seat belt, failure to reduce speed and two counts of misdemeanor death by vehicle.

The crash injured Gentry Eddings, a worship leader at Forest Hill Church’s Ballantyne campus in south Charlotte, and his wife Hadley Eddings, who was 38 weeks pregnant. The couple’s 2-year-old son, Dobbs, died on the way to New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington.

Hadley underwent emergency surgery to deliver the baby, Reed, who was flown to the North Carolina Children’s Hospital in Chapel Hill Sunday. He died Monday.

Deans, 28, was driving a six-wheeled commercial box truck south on U.S. 17 around noon Saturday when he collided with a caravan of cars containing the Eddings family. The caravan was stopped at the Sloop Point Loop Road intersection, near the town of Hampstead.

Richard Hendrickson, the highway patrol trooper investigating the accident, said Deans did not realize the cars were stopped until it was too late to slow his vehicle.

Blackburn Brothers Seafood in Carolina Beach owned the truck and employed Deans, who was working at the time of the accident, Hendrickson said.

Deans has been released on bail from Pender County Jail.

Forest Hill spokeswoman Stacey Martin said no plans for funerals or a memorial service had been made by Wednesday morning.

Wester: 704-358-5169

Related stories from Charlotte Observer