The driver charged in a crash that sparked a house explosion which killed an elderly Cleveland County couple in February is in custody.
Thomas Pruitt, 24, was indicted Tuesday morning. Friday, the State Highway Patrol said Pruitt was in custody.
Pruitt was indicted on two counts of misdemeanor death by vehicle.
The charges came six weeks after he crashed into a home propane tank in Fallston, setting off an explosion that killed a couple.
The couple, Johnie “J.B.” Newton, 74, and Naomi Newton, 76, were in their home on East Stagecoach Trail when the tank exploded. They escaped after the crash and explosion but later died from their injuries.
Neighbors who ran to the scene to help said Pruitt spoke with them.
“The driver stated when I got to him at the road he fell asleep at the wheel. ‘I fell asleep, oh God. I fell asleep,’” one neighbor said. “And then later on his story changed – that he was dodging a deer. So I don’t know.”
A highway patrol official later confirmed that Pruitt fell asleep behind the wheel at the time of the crash.
Troopers said they twice went to Pruitt’s home since he was indicted and the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office went a third time. Investigators said they got the runaround about Pruitt’s whereabouts.
WBTV is a news partner of The Charlotte Observer.