CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A trooper who was seriously injured after being hit by a pickup truck while pursuing a suspect is paralyzed from the neck down, authorities said Friday.
Authorities arrested and charged a man Wednesday in connection with a crash that caused a North Carolina Highway Patrolman on a motorcycle to collide with a truck Monday morning.
Dontay Kilgo, 36, failed to stop when Trooper Christopher L. Wooten tried to pull him over, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said.
Wooten pursued Kilgo, who ran a stoplight.
A pickup truck collided with Wooten’s motorcycle at about 9:30 a.m. at the intersection of Tuckaseegee Road and Edgewood Drive.
CMPD said the traffic on Edgewood Drive had a green light and that Wooten had a red light, but the trooper was coming through the intersection behind the car he was following and the driver of the pickup truck did not see him.
Wooten has had several surgeries but significantly hurt his spinal cord
Kilgo was charged with assault with a deadly weapon on a law enforcement officer, felony flee to elude, reckless driving, failure to heed to blue lights, driving while license revoked and possession of marijuana.
Witnesses told Channel 9's Tina Terry that Wooten was thrown from the motorcycle and landed across the street in a grassy area.
"I started crying," eyewitness Lindsay Stokes said. "That's pretty much something that I do not want to see. I really hope he is OK. He was kind of thrown into the grass. His bike was very smashed up."
He underwent a lengthy surgery on Tuesday.
“We’re hoping that’s going to expedite his recovery or increase his chances of recovering fully,” Trooper Ray Pierce said the day after the crash. “Still not out of the woods yet.”
Stokes said she was driving east on Tuckaseegee Road when she saw a car pass her going about 60 mph.
"It passed me and then the police officer sped past me again and then that was it and I came up and saw the accident," Stokes said.
Channel 9's Blain Tolison went to Carolinas Medical Center and spoke with several officers who said the trooper is well respected. Wooten is a 14-year veteran with the Highway Patrol.
“The mood is hopeful,” Pierce said Tuesday. “A lot of prayers. A lot of concerns. We’re getting a lot of outpour of payers and good wishes from the community, which is always good and always uplifting.”
Several Highway Patrol cars crammed into a small section near the hospital's emergency wing and showed up to the crash scene to support their fellow trooper.
"I've known him his entire career, which that was the reason I came up here. I just wanted to lay eyes on him and his family and say a few prayers with the family. All we ask now is that the public support him by way of prayer," Highway Patrol Capt. Dedric Robinson said.
The North Carolina Troopers Association is working behind the scenes. The association told Channel 9 it's in contact with the Wooten's family and his daughter who lives out of state and is supporting the family anyway it can.
"The dangers are inherent in the job. Kind of get used to it. It's what you do, but it's never easy when you see one of your own go down," Robinson said.
The driver of the pickup truck stayed on the scene, but officials said the suspect vehicle did not.
The car was located on Wednesday.
“We had not gotten back from Trooper Wooten the reason for the pursuit,” Pierce said Tuesday. “We were in the process of that when this collision occurred.”
Channel 9 dug through the NCHP's policy on chases and learned troopers can initiate chases if another agency is not involved.
The policy does state that "the necessity of an immediate apprehension must outweigh the level of danger created by the chase."
The NCSHP told Tolison it is sending a team from Raleigh to help investigate.
Check back with wsoctv.com for more information.
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