Reeder Pleads Guilty for January Car Accident on N.C. 105 That Killed ASU Student

Published Monday, September 28, 2015 at 8:14 am

By Jesse Wood

Jonathan Reeder, 21, pled guilty to misdemeanor death by vehicle last week, District Attorney Seth Banks announced on Friday.

Reeder was behind the wheel of a Chevrolet Tahoe when it crossed the centerline and struck a Pontaic driven by Jacob Whitaker, a 21-year-old student at Appalachian State University.



Whitaker died instantly upon impact, while Reeder didn’t suffer major injuries. The accident took place on N.C. 105 near the Ross car dealership in Boone on Jan. 22, 2015.

Master Police Offier Joe Knapp with the Boone Police Department initially charged Reeder with misdemeanor death by vehicle after investigating the incident, citing that Reeder was speeding (48 mph in a 35 speeding zone) and drove left of center.

According to toxicology results, neither Reeder nor Whitaker were under the influence of an impairing substance. Knapp said that he also reviewed Reeder’s cell phone activity and was able to eliminate cell phone usage as a potential catalyst in the accident.

“We eliminated cell phone [use] and any signs of impairment,” Knapp said after charging Reeder in May. “Why did [he cross the centerline]? I don’t really know … It’s just a horrible situation.”

District Court Judge Rebecca Eggers-Gryder sentenced Reeder to 60 days in jail; that sentence was suspended pending his successful completion of 18 months of supervised probation.

“This is a tragic case that illustrates the danger that is posed by drivers who are reckless or inattentive.  I want to take the opportunity to thank Matt Rupp for his efforts prosecuting this case,” District Attorney Seth Banks said. “I also want to commend the efforts of the Boone Police Department, the Boone Fire Department, Watauga County Medics, and the North Carolina State Highway Patrol in helping to bring closure to the criminal aspect of this case.  Finally, our hearts on this day are with the family of Jacob Whitaker.”

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