3rd death in Gastonia wreck

Longtime Gaston County community leader Julius “J.A.” Dalpiaz died at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte Thursday morning, a day after being charged in a wreck that killed a 34-year-old woman and her unborn child.

Dalpiaz, 83, died of injuries he suffered in Monday’s wreck, according to WBTV, the Observer’s news partner.

Dalpiaz was charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle for his role in the wreck that killed Samantha Thomas and her unborn child.

Donna Lahser, spokeswoman for the Gastonia police, said Dalpiaz was at a stop sign at South Vance Street and tried to turn left to go east on West Garrison Boulevard.

Thomas, with her 11-month-old son and her brother-in-law, Sherman Thomas, 61, in the car, slammed on the brakes as Dalpiaz turned at 14 mph, authorities said. Thomas was going near the posted speed limit of 45 mph.

Police said Thomas’s Honda Civic left 28.5 feet of skid marks before the crash.

Thomas died at Caromont Regional Medical Center in Gastonia.

Dalpiaz suffered a fractured pelvis and other injuries. He was a top longtime GOP activist in Gaston County and a major supporter of Gaston College.

Samantha Thomas and Sherman Thomas weren’t wearing seatbelts, authorities said.

Thomas’s son, who was in a child safety seat, suffered minor injuries, the Shelby Star reported.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak