Autopsy: Woman found in towed car died in crash - WNCT

Autopsy: Woman found in towed car died in crash

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Carolyn Watkins Carolyn Watkins
CLAYTON, N.C. -

The family of a woman whose body was discovered in her wrecked car days after it was towed is still demanding answers about what happened, even after an autopsy indicates she died within minutes of the accident.

Carolyn Watkins' son says knowing his mother's death was quick doesn't ease the family's pain, because her body went undiscovered for days after a state Highway Patrol trooper ordered her car towed from the accident scene.

"I'm trying to figure out why (they) didn't search the vehicle," said Al Parker.

That question haunts Parker as much as the memory of his mom haunts him following her untimely death.

"I'm thinking about her every day, every minute. It's just been tough on me and the family," Parker explained.

Watkins' 2000 Pontiac was found crashed in a ditch on Swift Creek Road in Smithfield not far from her home on Friday morning, but it wasn't until after the family filed a missing persons report with Smithfield police on Monday that her body was discovered.

It was still inside the car that had been towed from the scene to a Willow Springs impound yard.

The story has locals aghast.

"It just sounds outrageous," said Dave Stevens, who lives in the area.  "They said the airbags were still blocking her at the junkyard or wherever they took the car, but it sounds terrible that someone could be in a car like that."

State trooper M.D. Williams, who responded to the accident scene, was suspended as a probe got underway.

Wednesday, investigators went to the home Parker shared with his mom to fill him in on the results of the autopsy.

Parker said he was told his mother died of  "blunt force trauma" and "a neck injury along the spine" which he was told likely killed her within minutes.

The actual written autopsy report won't be made available for at least 30 days.

"What we're angry about is that she sat there for four days inside a vehicle," said Parker. "I wouldn't want to leave my dog in there for two hours."

He blames the state trooper and the tow truck driver for not thoroughly checking the wrecked car and can't understand how they slipped up. Trooper M.D. Williams has been placed on administrative duty.

"I'm not an officer, but the first thing I'm going to do is search," he said. "I'm going to look inside. It's common sense."

The family says it may consider legal action, but before they think about that, Parker says they need time to properly grieve.

Steve Sbraccia

Steve is an award-winning reporter for WNCN and former assistant professor. A seasoned professional, Steve is proud to call the Triangle home since 2005 after over two decades in Boston, Mass.  More>>

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