Charlotte, NC – The truck driver arrested for causing the crash that killed Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Mia Goodwin and injured three other officers was driving the tractor-trailer illegally and tried to walk away from the fatal collision to avoid apprehension, according to police.
The series of events leading to Officer Goodwin’s death began at approximately 10:30 p.m. on Dec. 21, when Charlotte-Mecklenburg (CMPD) officers responded to a collision involving a tractor-trailer in the area of W.T. Harris Boulevard and westbound Interstate 85, WSPA reported.
The crash involved a semi-truck hauling a load of grain that overturned, spilling the grain onto the interstate, according to WBTV.
The roadway was blocked for hours, but police were eventually able to open the far-left lane back up for motorists to pass through.
CMPD cars with their blue lights activated lined the remaining lanes to warn drivers about the lane closures, WBTV reported.
Witnesses said they could see the closures for approximately a half mile before they reached the actual crash site.
But as 50-year-old Daniel Morgan approached the area in his 2020 Volvo semi-truck and 2006 Walbash trailer at approximately 3:30 a.m., he failed to move to the open lane or to reduce his speed, according to investigators.
He was just 200 feet away from the crash scene when he made a “hard brake” attempt, police said.
Morgan plowed into a CMPD car and crashed into the semi-truck that had been carrying the load of grain, WBTV reported.
The force of the impact pushed the semi-truck involved in the first collision into the median barricade before Morgan’s truck slammed into another CMPD car.
Officer Goodwin was hit by Morgan’s semi-truck as she was standing beside the second patrol unit.
She died of her injuries at the scene, WBTV reported.
CMPD Officer Sean Husk, Officer Jackson Buffington, and Officer Shannon Foster were all transported to the hospital with injuries, CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings told reporters on Dec. 22.
They have all since been released and are recovering at home.
Police said Morgan tried to walk away from the scene by heading up an exit ramp before an officer stopped him, WBTV reported.
He also allegedly removed an unspecified mechanical device from the dash of his truck in an apparent attempt to hinder the investigation into the crash, police said.
According to the North Carolina State Highway Patrol (NCHP), the truck Morgan was driving was not supposed to be on the roadway because it was out of commission, WBTV reported.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration records indicated Morgan’s trucking company’s U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) number was inactive due to a failure to provide updated information as required, WCNC reported.
The suspect allegedly admitted he put a fictitious tag on the trailer.
Morgan claimed he couldn’t remember what occurred after the crash when police intercepted him walking away from the scene.
He was transported to the hospital for evaluation, where he submitted to screening and was not found to be impaired, according to police.
Morgan was arrested on multiple counts in connection with the crash, to include involuntary manslaughter, according to WBTV.
Officer Goodwin joined the CMPD in October of 2015, WISTV reported.
Her husband, Brenton, is a firefighter with the Charlotte Fire Department, CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings said.
The couple has three children, ages three, one, and four months old, WISTV reported.
Officer Goodwin had recently returned to work after being on maternity leave, the chief noted.
“Imagine trying to be a mother to three kids, a husband who is a firefighter – whose jobs and hours are just as demanding,” Chief Jennings continued, according to WCNC. “This profession is one that’s not for everyone. I do know that she knew it was for her. I know that she wanted to continue and make this a career and not just a job.”
Officer Goodwin’s law enforcement career was just beginning.
“She was an inspiring young woman who wanted to do more,” Chief Jennings said. “She loved the people around her, the people that she worked with.”
“The profession hurts. Our city hurts,” he told reporters.
Officer Goodwin will be laid to rest Wednesday, WBTV reported.