Capture of state mental patients distracts drivers, triggers I-77 wrecks


STATESVILLE, NC (WSIC) – The capture of two teenage patients from Broughton Psychiatric Hospital distracted I-77 drivers in Statesville Thursday, triggering three accidents.

Law enforcement says the teens escaped during a trip to Statesville, but were taken into custody at the Broad Street exit by the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office which was assisting the Statesville Police Department. The group was in Statesville to visit the city’s leisure pool.

“Such excursions are part of routine therapy and support patients’ recovery from their illness and build coping mechanisms in community environments,” says NC Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Kelly Haight Connor in a statement to WSIC.

Connor says their primary concern is the well-being of patients and that the Statesville Police Department was contacted as part of routine procedure when the teens went missing.

The Statesville Leisure Pool is owned by the city which says there was no prior notification of any potential issues regarding the group. Spokesperson Nancy Davis tells WSIC in a statement that pool staff readily assisted the group when the teens were reported missing.

“The public can be assured that the staff at all of the City’s recreational facilities are highly trained to respond competently when problems arise,” says Davis.

Trooper Allred with the North Carolina Highway Patrol says traffic was slowing on the northbound side at the time. The first accident happened at the Broad Street exit where the teens were being taken into custody. Allred says an accident near Garner Bagnal Boulevard and another south of that were both chain-reactions from the first.

Minor or no injuries were reported in two of the accidents. Details were not shared regarding the other.

Author: WSIC editor