Man with 2 DWI convictions faces death by vehicle charge in Concord wreck

John Lowry Kennedy Jr.
John Lowry Kennedy Jr. Concord Police Department

A man with two driving while impaired convictions was arrested this week in a head-on wreck in Concord that killed a woman and severely injured her passenger.

Lydia Christine Velasques died when the oncoming driver crossed the center line and hit her car on Branchview Drive between Lawndale Avenue and Union Street South on Oct. 3, police said.

John Lowry Kennedy Jr., 52, was arrested Monday and charged with felony death by vehicle and driving while intoxicated, non-alcohol related. Kennedy is free on $100,000 bail.

Kennedy was hurt in the wreck and taken to Carolinas HealthCare System Northeast. No charges were filed against him at the time “due to the significant injuries he sustained as a result of the crash,” police said in a statement.

Kennedy was convicted of DWI in 2006 in McDowell County and in 1989 in Iredell County, court records show.

The case is the second in a week involving a driver who had previous DWI convictions being charged in a fatal wreck.

A Caldwell County pastor who grew up in Charlotte died Dec. 6 when a man with two DWI convictions ran a red light on U.S. 70 near Conover and hit the pastor’s minivan, authorities said.

Michael Howard Vanderburg, 43, was a father of three and pastor of Abundant Life Church of God in Hudson. Several of his family members also were in the minivan and were taken to a hospital. Their conditions were unavailable Wednesday.

The State Highway Patrol charged Zachariah Arthur Carl, 31, of Newton, with second-degree murder, driving while impaired, failure to stop for a steady red light, possession of an open container of alcohol and driving with a license that was revoked for the DWI convictions.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak