College intern killed in NCSHP crash posthumously named ’Honorary Trooper’

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. — Troopers have honored a North Carolina State Highway Patrol intern who was also an East Carolina University student after he was killed in a crash last month in Greenville.

The crash happened Aug. 22 in Pitt County, around 1 a.m., when a state trooper tried to overtake a suspected impaired driver. The trooper lost control of his patrol vehicle on a curve and the car ran off the road and struck a utility pole and two large trees, according to investigators.

Michael Steven Higgins, 22, a passenger in the trooper’s vehicle, died in the crash. He was a senior at ECU and was participating in the Highway Patrol’s college internship program while pursuing a major in criminal justice, WECT reported.

On Wednesday, during a celebration of life ceremony in Elizabeth City, Higgins was recognized for “his passion, character and for his desire to become a part of the law enforcement family.”

He was posthumously awarded the title of “Honorary Trooper.” Col. Glenn McNeill, Jr. presented Higgins’ mother with a North Carolina state flag and a certification marking the distinction.

“Michael’s life showcased the character and drive it takes to answer a calling into the life of a public servant,” McNeill said. “His drive to join the law enforcement profession began long ago. It began with a heart for others, which is essential to serve. Michael did not idly await opportunity, he created opportunity. This was showcased through his chosen internship and that is something each of us could retain from his life.”

The North Carolina Department of Transportation issued the following statement:

“The loss of Michael will continue to grip the family and friends of a young man destined for greatness in service of others. Michael’s life and legacy will forever be stamped on the history of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol and his family will forever be in our hearts. As we pause in honor of Michael’s life, please continue to keep his family, friends, fellow students at East Carolina University and the entire SHP in your thoughts and prayers.”

Trooper Omar Romero, a two-year veteran assigned to the Pitt County district, was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries after the crash.

The SHP’s Internal Affairs Unit and Reconstruction Unit are completing both internal and criminal independent investigations, which is agency protocol anytime a trooper is involved in a fatal collision.