Brothers die when SUV smashes through Hardee’s, NC cops say. Now the driver is charged

(Drew C. Wilson/The Wilson Times via AP) /(Drew C. Wilson/The Wilson Times via AP) Drew C. Wilson AP

The driver of an SUV that crashed into a Hardee’s and killed two people in August has been arrested, according to North Carolina police.

Jesse Lee Lawrence, 75, turned himself into the Wilson Police Department on Sept. 27 after investigators issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of reckless driving and two counts of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, according to a news release from the Wilson Police Department.

Wilson is about 50 miles east of Raleigh.

Police say Lawrence was driving an SUV when it slammed into a Hardee’s on the morning of Sunday, Aug. 14.

Two brothers, Christopher Ruffin, 58, and Clay Ruffin, 62, were struck. Christopher Ruffin was pronounced dead at the scene, and Clay Ruffin was taken to a hospital, where he died of his injuries, according to police.

Lawrence was also taken to the hospital that day and was treated and released.

Loved ones held a joint celebration of life for Christopher and Clay Ruffin on Aug. 20, according to their obituaries. Their caskets sat side-by-side adorned with flowers in a church in Wilson.

Christopher Ruffin was a beloved father and brother, according to his obituary. He worked at an ironwork and hydraulics company and enjoyed doing handy work around the house. He also worked as a school bus driver for 34 years.

“Loving, kind, and devoted, Christopher enjoyed life and the many pleasures he received from family, friends, and his work,” his obituary says. “He loved his family with his whole heart and delighted in the special times he shared with each one.”

Friends and family members who wrote condolences on Clay Ruffin’s obituary called him a “humble and friendly man.”

“I will remember my cousin as a hardworking family man!” wrote Ann Best. “He didn’t have much to say, but he had a big smile that could light up a room.”

George Meeks wrote that both of the Ruffin brothers “would give you the shirt off of their backs.”

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