September 20, 2023 at 10:25 a.m.
No Charges Yet Against Offficer in Hickory Wreck That Killed Two
On Friday night September 8th, a Hickory Police officer, attempting to stop a motorcycle for reckless driving and failure to display a license plate, rammed a 2011 Odyssey in the intersection of US 70 and 13th Street NW.
The 11 PM accident cost the lives of a Hickory woman, the driver of the Odyssey, and her 12-year-old son, a passenger in the minivan. Cynthia Nicole Lail, 38, succumbed to her injuries at the scene. Her son Michael died from his injuries at Atrium Health's Wake Forest Brenner Children's Hospital on the Sunday following the wreck (Sept. 10th).
A Highway Patrol report released Wednesday (Sept. 20th) estimates the police cruiser was traveling 90 mph when it struck the minivan broadside. Both vehicles were said to have traveled 270 feet after the impact.
The officer driving the police vehicle, Atia Mohamed Shamseldin, 24, was transported to Catawba Valley Medical Center with minor injuries. His passenger, Matthew Lee Wendell, 21, identified as a Hickory Police Dept. applicant, was also taken to Catawba Valley Medical Center also with only minor injuries.
Shamseldin was placed on administrative leave pending further investigation. Hickory Police Dept. policy leaves the option to pursue up to the officer, saying he or she should weigh the importance of apprehending suspects against the risks associated with vehicle pursuits including dangers to uninvolved bystanders or motorists as well as the officer and suspect. The policy doesn't forbid beginning a chase when another person is in the police vehicle.
On Wednesday the NC Highway Patrol confirmed that no charges have been filed so far in the fatal accident but Hickory Police have charged the motorcycle operator, Chanceler Timothy Johnson, 24, of Valdese with eluding arrest causing death, a felony. He surrendered to police last Friday and had a first appearance in court on Wednesday. A Highway Patrol news release said that in addition to the initial wreck report, the NC State Highway Patrol Collision Reconstruction Unit will issue a further report when it completes its investigation, which according to the release is projected to take several months.
Funeral arrangements for the mother and son were being handled by Bass-Smith Funeral Home of Hickory. A GoFundMe page [https://www.gofundme.com/f/cynthia-fox-and-micheal-lail?] established by friends and relatives had raised $15,776 by Wednesday Sept. 20th.