DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. – A deadly crash early in the morning this Fourth of July left one dead and another recovering in the hospital.
Troopers say 46-year-old Salomon Acuna, from Lexington, died in that crash. His 21-year-old nephew, Honorio Rosales, was driving and is now facing charges.
Two of the major factors in this crash were reportedly driving under the influence and seatbelts, two things the North Carolina Highway Patrol has been trying to crack down on for the holiday.
A little after 4 a.m. Wednesday, Trooper Everett Ribelin was called out to a deadly scene on US-52 in Davidson County.
The driver went off the left side of the road, struck a guard rail, went back on the roadway, then hit the bridge side going over US 64.
That caused the Honda CRV the two were in to flip over several times, before coming to rest on its side.
Two other drivers coming up the road could not see the car because it did not have any lights. One of the drivers was taken to Lexington Hospital with minor injuries. The other driver was okay.
Trooper Ribeline said 21-year-old Honorio Rosales was the one behind the wheel. His uncle, Salomon Acuna, was in the passenger seat.
Investigators say the two were driving from Winston-Salem to Lexington, where Acuna lived.
Rosales was wearing a seatbelt at the time, and troopers say that likely saved his life. His uncle was not buckled up.
"We're particularly looking for seatbelts just for this reason, because potentially that could have saved him," Trooper Everett Ribelin said.
Family tells FOX8 when they got the call this morning, they thought it was Salomon picking his nephew up for work.
Instead, they learned Salomon died, and now they're spending this 4th of July making funeral arrangements.
"You don't know when a crash is going to happen, it just happens, and you have to be prepared for it," said North Carolina Highway Patrol Master Trooper Brandon Baker.
This week, there are more people on the roads, and troopers say that means more risks. That's why they're cracking down to try and prevent more accidents like this one, with Operation Firecracker.
Last year during the 4th of July, there were more than 200 crashes across the area and about 100 people were arrested for DUI.
"You know that you saved the life of that impaired driver and the lives of countless others when that happens," Master Trooper Baker said.
Those are lives these troopers are trying to save, especially during a time when they see too many deadly crashes.
"As we're celebrating an exciting time for our country, we don't want to have to go to the home of someone's family and let them know that they aren't coming home," he said.
Troopers say Rosales is facing charges for reckless driving and more charges for DUI are pending.