RUTHERFORD COUNTY, N.C. — The North Carolina law enforcement community is reeling after a state trooper on Monday lost control of his vehicle and plowed into a fellow trooper — and his own brother — during a traffic stop, killing him and the driver he had detained.
Trooper James Horton was responding to the Rutherford County traffic stop just before 9 p.m. Monday when the crash occurred, according to authorities. His brother, Trooper John Horton, had pulled over a driver at High Shoals Church Road and Goodes Grove Church Road near Mooresboro.
“Trooper James Horton collided with the stationary patrol vehicle and subsequently struck Trooper John Horton and the detained driver, who were standing along the roadside,” reads a statement from the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.
The detained driver, whose name had not yet been released Tuesday morning, was pronounced dead at the scene. John Horton was taken to a Spartanburg hospital, where he died of his injuries.
James Horton was treated at a local hospital for minor injuries. He has since been released.
Severe weather passed through North Carolina on Monday, though it was not immediately clear if the weather played a role in the crash. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is leading the investigation into the collision, with assistance from the North Carolina State Highway Patrol’s collision reconstruction unit.
“Our hearts are broken with the loss of our friend and our brother, Trooper John Horton,” Col. Freddy L. Johnson Jr., commander of the State Highway Patrol, said in a statement. “For all involved in this tragic event, the coming days will undoubtedly be difficult, but we are committed to stand alongside with them with our thoughts, prayers and unwavering support.”
John Horton was a 15-year veteran trooper. His death was being mourned online Tuesday, including by his fellow law enforcement officers from other agencies.
“We ask that you keep the men and women of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol in your thoughts and prayers today,” read a statement on the Raleigh Police Department’s Facebook page. “Last night, they lost John Horton during a traffic stop due to a collision. We are extremely sorry for their loss and offer them our condolences.”
The Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office sent similar condolences.
“Trooper Horton died in the line of duty and will be remembered for his life of service,” the agency’s statement concluded.
In Forsythe County, deputies mourned with Horton’s family, “both blood and blue.”
“We honor all Trooper Horton accomplished while wearing the badge, and we mourn the loss of a brother dedicated to serving and protecting,” the agency tweeted.
A statement from the North Carolina Troopers Association asked for prayers for the Horton family.
“Our hearts are hurting today,” the statement read. “More info to follow in terms of where you can give back to his family and funeral arrangements.”
Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC, also expressed sorrow, as did Rep. Madison Cawthorn, who represents the state’s 11th Congressional District.
“Susan and I send our deepest condolences to family of Trooper (John) Horton, the family of the deceased driver and the North Carolina State Highway Patrol community following this horrible tragedy,” Tillis wrote on Facebook.
Cawthorn wrote on Twitter that Horton’s bravery and service would not be forgotten.
“Law enforcement officers risk their lives every day to protect us and our families,” Cawthorn tweeted. “Please pray for this trooper’s family and all who were involved in this accident.”
©2022 Cox Media Group