Smithfield, NC – A plumber will spend at least 10 years in jail for killing a day care vehicle driver in a head-on collision three years ago while he was affected by medication, authorities said.
Seth Charles Tracy, 40, of Holly Springs, pleaded guilty to second degree murder and driving on Wednesday while disabled and sentenced to 10 to 13 years in prison in the November 6, 2018 accident that killed Martha Darlene Peterson was convicted.
Tracy was working for Bizzy Bee Plumbing at the time, and his work cart crossed the centerline of Barber Mill Road and crashed into a stroller, authorities said. Shortly before the accident, several drivers called 911 to report a truck sliding across the street.
Peterson, 39, of Kenly, worked for the Kids Country of Clayton. At least five others, including several children, were injured.
State Highway Patrol officers found Tracy was compromised at the time of the crash and found him to fall and fall asleep in a patrol car and then in the Johnston County Jail, authorities said. A blood test found both methadone, which is used to treat opioid addiction, and generic Xanax in his system.
The video from a dashboard camera inside the sanitary truck shows how it crossed the center line of Barber Mill Road more than 20 times before the accident. Many of the 50 vehicles seen in the video, including a school bus and three other daycare centers, had to leave the two-lane road to avoid being hit, the authorities said.
Peterson also pulled to the right side of the road to avoid a collision, but was unsuccessful as Tracy’s van was completely in its lane upon impact, authorities said.
Tracy’s colleagues told investigators that his work was impaired so often that the company hired someone to drive him to the construction sites, authorities said. The dash camera video confirmed that another employee allowed Tracy to drive away from work shortly before the accident, authorities said.
Bizzy Bee Plumbing President Robert Schwachenwald apologized two days after the crash, saying he was “devastated” by Peterson’s death. However, he insisted that the company prohibit restricted employees from driving.
“We randomly test our employees for drugs and have records to prove this. If we were informed about the condition of Mr. Tracy … he would never have been behind the wheel of our vehicle,” Schwachenwald said in a statement at the time.
Tracy’s driving report included 10 previous accidents and 10 speeding convictions, authorities said.