DALLAS, N.C. — Troopers are now strongly leaning toward a medical condition as the reason for the fatal crash that killed a 22-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department Thursday.
Police responded to Dallas Bessemer City Highway in Dallas around 10:15 a.m.
Officials confirmed the officer who died, Cpl. Travis Wells, had been with the Dallas Police Department for 22 years. They said the 46-year-old officer leaves behind a spouse.
Officials said Wells was headed home from headquarters when his police cruiser veered off the road and hit a tree. He was killed.
Troopers said it appears he didn’t turn the wheel of the car or hit the brakes before driving 211 feet off the road and hitting a tree, which is highly unusual for a person who is alert.
"In 36 years in the fire service, that was probably one of the worst entanglements I had seen in a long, long time," Assistant Chief Rob Smith, with the Agriculture Center Volunteer Fire Department said.
Smith had the hardest job Thursday. He was Incident Commander at the scene of the deadly crash.
"We are brothers. I mean, we are all in the emergency services together," Smith said.
Chopper 9 Skzyoom captured the moments first responders consoled each other at the scene.
A couple of responders who were very close to Wells had to step back, while the rest worked tirelessly for 30 minutes to try to remove him and give him a chance to recover.
“We all did everything in our power to make it work,” Smith said.
When they determined it was too late, they stopped, prayed and wrapped Wells’ body in an American flag.
They then reverently moved his body to an ambulance and escorted him away.
“We appreciate all the love, support and prayers during this difficult time for the Dallas Police Department and the town of Dallas as a whole,” said Chief R.A. Scott, with the Dallas Police Department.
The chief was too heartbroken to say more about a trusted officer and friend.
Alderwoman Stacey Malker Thomas got the call soon after officers confirmed the death.
"Shock. The first initial thought was shock, and very saddened that we lost one of our brothers,” Malker Thomas said.
She said Wells was well-respected and active in the community.
“Very loved, very inviting,” she said.
First responders had a debriefing at the fire department after the procession Thursday.
Cub Scouts who remember Wells from a troop visit made sympathy cards for the police department. The troop leader delivered them Friday morning.
One message from the Scouts to police read, “Sorry about your friend. I hope you are okay.”
The North Carolina Highway Patrol is leading the investigation.
"It's early on in the investigation. We have completed our on scene investigation," Trooper Ray Pierce said.
Troopers had a team working to reconstruct the accident. They have recovered the black box and are retrieving data about car functions before the crash.
Officers from the Gaston County Sheriff's Office and the Gaston County Police Department were helping patrol Friday while Dallas officers grieved.
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