Police officer dead, another injured after I-540 crash near Knightdale, officials say

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A police officer died after a driver crashed into two stationary police cars on Interstate 540 early Sunday morning.

Knightdale police officers were investigating a single-car crash on I-540 just after 2:30 a.m. when a 2011 Mercedes-Benz hit one of their cars from behind, knocking it into the other, according to an N.C. State Highway Patrol news release.

The driver, Dedric Romero Privette, 40, of Knightdale, failed to reduce his speed and did not move over to avoid the stopped police cars, officials said.

Officer Ryan Hayworth, 23, was taken to WakeMed in Raleigh, but died.

Hayworth, who had been on the force for just three months, was formerly in the U.S. Army.

He is the son of a former Zebulon police chief, Timothy Hayworth, Zebulon police said in a Facebook post.

Hayworth’s training officer, Cody Hagler, was seriously injured, as was Privette and the person involved in the initial single-car crash.

Hagler’s injuries were not life-threatening, the town’s release said.

The State Highway Patrol said that alcohol is believed to have been a factor in the crash, and that charges against Privette are pending.

Knightdale Police Officer Ryan Hayworth, 23, was killed in a crash on Interstate 540 early Sunday morning.
Knightdale Police Officer Ryan Hayworth, 23, was killed in a crash on Interstate 540 early Sunday morning.

“Ryan’s loss (is) an indescribable tragedy for our department and our community,” said Police Chief Lawrence Capps in a news release from the town of Knightdale. “The pain of his death (is) felt the most by his family, friends, and those who knew him best. As we began the process of healing, we ask that you join us in a season of prayer for all of those who have been forever touched by this heartbreaking event.”

The crash occurred in the eastbound lanes by mile marker 22, the town said.

After, the three cars were disabled and blocked all three traffic lanes, according to the Highway Patrol release.

The highway remained closed while the Highway Patrol investigated, with eastbound traffic being detoured onto Buffalo Road by the Raleigh Police Department, officials said.

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