CMPD: Icy windshield to blame for collision that killed Navy veteran

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Police have charged the driver who they said struck and killed a pedestrian early Monday morning in southeast Charlotte.

Officers said the collision happened just after 6 a.m. on Monroe Road, just east of Sardis Road North.

The manager of a nearby McDonald's confirmed with Channel 9 that the person killed was one of his employees.

Family members at the scene identified the victim as 62-year-old Daniel Wheeler. They told Channel 9 that he was a Navy veteran as well as a volunteer firefighter.

Relatives said Wheeler witnessed a traumatic explosion when he was younger, so he became a paramedic to help save others from pain.

"I can't even imagine how many times people had heart attacks and he was on the scene," his brother Isaiah Wheeler said.

Daniel Wheeler was crossing the street, walking with co-workers, to get to his job at McDonald’s when he was hit and killed, according to police.

Police said he was not in a crosswalk.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police charged Grigory Kolesnik, 54, with reckless driving and misdemeanor death by vehicle in connection with Wheeler's death.

After gathering information during the investigation, detectives determined that Kolesnik could not see Wheeler because of an icy windshield, which contributed to the crash.

Wheeler’s brothers said he volunteered as a firefighter in Waxhaw and in north Charlotte. Some of his brothers are ministers and, even though they are broken now, they said their faith is stronger than their grief.

"The only thing that really helps through a time like this is knowing that God's got him in His hands," said Henry Wheeler.

This tragedy doesn't stand alone.

Channel 9 counted four crashes that killed or seriously hurt pedestrians along Monroe Road in just the past year and a half.

A non-profit called Sustain Charlotte, which helps neighborhoods with growth, has already walked this corridor with neighbors to identify the dangers.

"The crossing opportunities for pedestrians are pretty far and few between," Sustain Charlotte program director Meg Fencil said.

Fencil said the sidewalks are too narrow and close to the four-lane road, where traffic often flies faster than the speed limit.

"Do you think by the time something actually gets changed, we could have more fatalities on that road? I think this needs to happen as quickly as possible so nobody else loses their life on our streets," Fencil said.

Sustain Charlotte officials said the Charlotte Department of Transportation has taken their safety suggestions into consideration but there isn't a timeline for any improvements.

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