State trooper dies after brother's vehicle hit his patrol car while responding to a traffic stop

A North Carolina state trooper and a man he had just detained died after the trooper's brother, also a trooper, lost control of his vehicle when responding to a traffic stop and struck the two, authorities say.

The North Carolina State Highway Patrol said trooper James Horton was responding to help his brother, John Horton, with a traffic stop on Monday around 9 p.m. in Rutherford County. As James Horton was arriving, he lost control of his patrol vehicle and hit his brother's stationary car before hitting his brother and the detainee who were standing to the side of the road, authorities said in a Facebook post. 

John Horton was taken to a local hospital, where he later died of his injuries. The detained driver, identified by Fox Carolina as 26-year-old Dusty Luke Beck of South Carolina, was pronounced dead at the scene. 

James Lovelace told WSOC he heard the crash happen outside of his home and when he approached the scene, he realized he knew both of the troopers in the accident and attempted to aid the injured. 

"Our hearts are broken with the loss of our friend and our brother, Trooper John Horton", Colonel 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."

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Officials did not say if the crash was weather-related, but the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the matter with the help of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol Collision Reconstruction Unit. Snow blanketed many mid-Atlantic southern states over the weekend, including North Carolina. 

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper offered his condolences to the victims of the crash in a Twitter thread on Tuesday and said drivers should be cautious of the icy roads. Temperatures in the area were around 32 degrees when the accident occurred, according to the National Weather Service. 

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Lovelace said John Horton was "one of the greatest men I ever met," and family friends said his dedication to his 15-years on the job was the reason his brother also became a trooper. 

"It’s probably like a bad dream to him this morning. A bad dream you just can’t get out of," family friend Anthony Smith told WSOC.

Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jordan_mendoza5.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NC state trooper killed after brother hits car during a traffic stop

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