Volunteer firefighter charged in crash that killed local mother

Mother killed in crash while driving children to Splash Pad in Hickory

ALEXANDER COUNTY, N.C. — A volunteer firefighter was charged Monday for his role in a deadly crash last week in Alexander County.

Carrie Howell, 33, was killed in a crash last Monday while driving children to Splash Mountain in Hickory, troopers told Channel 9.

<p>Carrie Howell</p>

Carrie Howell

Content Continues Below

Investigators said 20-year-old Joshua Bowman fell asleep while driving a Ford Ranger and crossed the centerline when the vehicles collided on Highway 64, west of Taylorsville.

Bowman has been cited for reckless driving and driving left of center.

Howell's children, an 11-year-old boy and 7-year-old girl, were taken to Frye Hospital in Hickory with minor injuries.

Their 11-year-old cousin was flown to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. He was in critical condition but is expected to be OK.

Neighbors heard the impact and rushed to help the children.

"They were just traumatized, screaming,” neighbor Rodney Barnes said. “We tried to calm them down and tell them it was alright, but little kids they were scared."

Everyone was properly restrained, troopers said.

Bowman was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. Channel 9 learned he is a volunteer firefighter with the Ellendale Fire Department -- the same unit that responded to the crash.

"Loved the fire service, still does,” Ellendale Assistant Fire Chief Tank Townsend said. “I think the world of him. Good kid."

Bowman was not working at the fire department prior to the crash, but his fellow firefighters said what happened is a lesson to everyone who gets behind the wheel when they're tired.

They hope Bowman learns from what happened and returns to the department in the future.

"We support him and come back with open arms,” Townsend said. “We are a family here. We are a firefighter family."

Read more top trending stories on wsoctv.com: