Police: Rep. Womble crossed center line in fatal head-on collision
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Police on Monday said N.C. Rep. Larry Wayne Womble crossed the center line before a fatal head-on collision that happened late Friday evening in Winston-Salem.
Womble, 70, was taken to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, where he remained in critical but stable condition as of 5 p.m. Tuesday. He underwent another surgery on Tuesday, and a family spokesperson said he is expected to go through more surgeries throughout the week.
A family spokesperson said Womble “is not out of the woods as of yet, but the family breathes a sigh of relief following each surgical procedure.”
At a news conference Monday, a hospital spokesperson said Womble was alert and responding to stimuli. The spokesperson said Womble also recognizes the presence of his family and responds to voices, although he has not been able to speak.
Doctors said Sunday that Womble was showing signs of progress after the surgeries and that they feel cautiously optimistic about his recovery.
“For all of the challenges that he has right now, he is doing, I believe, better than the medical professionals had anticipated, so we are happy about that,” Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines said Sunday.
Another Winston-Salem man, David Allen Carmichael, 54, of 2767 Reynolds Park Road, died at the scene of the wreck, which happened around 11 p.m. in the 2600 block of Reynolds Park Road.
Police said the wreck involved a head-on collision between a 2010 Acura sedan driven by Womble and a 1996 Chrysler convertible driven by Carmichael.
On Monday, police said in a news release that Womble’s eastbound Acura crossed the center line on Reynolds Park Road and crashed head-on into Carmichael’s westbound Chrysler.
Womble was driving about 50 mph and Carmichael was driving about 45 mph, police said. The posted speed limit was 45 mph.
Police said Womble was not wearing his seatbelt at the time of the collision. It was not clear if Carmichael was wearing a seatbelt, police said.
Blood samples from both drivers will be tested for any substances, however there is no evidence to suggest that either driver was impaired, police said.
The investigation is ongoing and investigators have not determined if charges will be filed, police said. Anyone with information about the crash is asked to call police at (336) 773-7832.
Police said earlier that they were waiting to release more information about how the wreck happened until they are able to interview Womble, who has been unable to speak since the incident. However, further details were released Monday afternoon. The information was compiled from witness accounts and the on-scene investigation, police said.
Both Womble and Carmichael were acquaintances and lived just blocks away from where the crash occurred. Womble’s colleague, Rep. Earline Parmon, said the families of the two drivers have been close over the years.
Carmichael’s dad, Hoagie Carmichael, said his son was a fun-loving and caring man and wished Womble a speedy recovery.
Womble, who is in his 9th term as a state representative for the 71st district, was born in Winston-Salem. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Winston-Salem State, then furthered his education at both UNC Greensboro and Appalachian State University. Before joining politics, Womble served as an alderman in Winston-Salem for 12 years up until 1993.
“He’s up there. His community is up there. Larry is very popular. He served on the city council here for a number of years and in the General Assembly so everyone is praying for him,” Dale Folwell, Speaker Pro Temp of the House, said.
In a statement released Monday, Rep. Parmon requested that those who are looking to help should instead seek to serve their communities.
“Go out and do something to help someone in need. The holidays are approaching and there are many needy families out there. Each year, Rep. Womble does something to help a family in need, so we should all do what he would do. Go out and do a good deed and do it in honor of Representative Larry Womble. The family also wants to encourage those of you who can, please visit your local blood bank to donate blood. This time of year there is a greater need for blood donation.”
Rep. Parmon and Womble’s son, Jamal Womble, released this statement Saturday afternoon:
“I, along with his son Jamal Womble, other close friends and family have been with him, and at this point we are awaiting additional information from the medical professionals who are working tirelessly on his behalf.
On behalf of our entire community, I want to sincerely thank the paramedics who responded so swiftly as well as the doctors, nurses, emergency room and hospital staff who have cared for Representative Womble. They have been extraordinary to him and to us. We thank everyone for the continued thoughts and prayers and ask for respect and privacy for Representative Womble and his family.
The family also asks that the public keep the family of David Carmichael, who perished after the crash, in their thoughts and prayers.”
Gov. Bev Perdue on Saturday morning issued this statement:
“Bob and I send our thoughts and prayers to Larry Womble and his family, as we pray for his recovery and for strength and comfort for his family, as well as for the family of Mr. Carmichael.”
Police said Carmichael’s death marked the 18th traffic fatality of 2011 for the city.
The Winston-Salem City Council held a moment of silence in Womble’s honor prior to Monday’s meeting.