By Jesse Wood
May 21, 2014. A woman driving a 2003 Audi struck four motorcyclists, killing one, on U.S. 321 in Cove Creek just before 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday evening.
N.C. Highway Patrol First Sgt. Scott Byers said Jennifer Willis, 38, of Vilas, “veered left of center,” hitting the four that were part of a much larger pack of motorcycles. Byers said that it “does appear some sort of impairment” was involved; whether that was drugs or alcohol, Byers said that is still being determined.
Willis was charged with driving impaired and was taken into custody last night, held in the Watauga County Jail under $500,000 bail. Other charges are pending.
Alfredo Madrid, 50, of Miami, was killed instantly, while another motorcyclist was flown by helicopter to Johnson City Medical Center. Two others cyclists were transported to the Watauga Medical Center. The condition of the motorcyclist in Johnson City is unknown, while the two transported to the Watauga Medical Center were released last night, according to Byers.
The motorcyclists were from Florida.
Watauga County Sheriff Len Hagaman and his department assisted in the response last night. Detours around the crash lasted for three hours. Cove Creek Fire Department personnel directed traffic.
Hagaman said that the crash reconstructionists with the N.C. Highway Patrol and Boone Police Department worked the crash investigation, while emergency and rescue personnel with the county coordinated medical triage and evacuation.
Two hours after the crash, Watauga County Sheriff’s Office escorted the rest of the motorcycle pack into town to store the drivable cycles at the sheriff’s office. The damaged bikes were transported to Hampton’s Body Shop and Bill’s Garage.
Hagaman added that the Local Christian Motorcycle Ministry provided lodging and sustenance for the bikers and, along with Watauga Medical Center chaplains, provided spiritual and trauma comfort relief.
“Truly a great coordination of efforts in this tragedy,” Hagaman wrote in an email on Wednesday night.