Trooper dies after running off highway in Wayne County, officials say

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PIKEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – A North Carolina State Highway Patrol trooper died in a crash in Wayne County Friday night, officials said.

Sgt. Chris Knox with the NCSHP said Trooper Nolan Sanders, a five-year veteran, was driving north on Interstate 795 in Pikeville shortly after 7:15 p.m. when he drove off the right side of the road and hit a concrete ditch culvert. The crash happened near the U.S. 70 bypass.

Knox said it isn’t known why Sanders drove off the road.

“We don’t feel any type of enforcement action was taking place,” he said.

Sanders was 28 years old.

“It’s a difficult time. It is,” Knox said. “Every trooper, every person who works for the highway patrol is a member of our family. Their families are members of our families. This is tough. Our colonel, all of our command staff has been out all night — has been with the family, has been at the hospital with the family, has been at their homes already. The support network is already showing what we do.”

The road is closed two miles north of Exit 22, which is the exit for the U.S. 70 bypass, a North Carolina Department of Transportation alert said. A WNCN crew on scene observed more than a dozen police and first responders.

Drivers are in the area are instructed to take Exit 22, follow U.S. 70 to U.S. 117 to Pikeville-Princeton Road, turn left on Pikeville-Princeton Road, and continue on that road to reaccess I-795.

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