Investigation opened after Onslow County sheriff’s vehicle hits fire hydrant; Miller releases statement, says he will cover repair costs


JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — An investigation has been opened into a single-vehicle crash involving the sheriff of Onslow County.

An email from District Attorney Ernie Lee said Jacksonville Police Chief Michael Yaniero contacted him regarding a crash involving Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller, which happened on Feb. 9. Yaniero indicated an investigation had opened and that Lee had been requested to be added to it.

“Since I have known Sheriff Miller in an official capacity for many years, I believe it appropriate to have a prosecutor from another district who not has not worked with Sheriff Miller review the findings of the investigation,” Lee said in a statement. “On February 23, 2021, in order to avoid any potential conflicts, I contacted District Attorney Billy West of Cumberland County to review any investigation and reports of the Jacksonville Police Department. On February 23, 2021, the Administrative Office of the Courts assigned District Attorney Billy West to review this matter.”

Miller told WNCT’s Camila Barco he was on his way to a political meeting. The sheriff says it was dark and the bottom portion of his windows were fogged up. He said he cut the curb too short where there was a fire hydrant and scratched a county vehicle. Miller said the damages were minor and the car was being repaired. He said he’d take responsibility for the costs.

“This happened, it could’ve happened to anyone, no one was hurt and the appropriate report was made to the county,” Miller said. 

Barco also reports Miller is working and is doing fine. No one else was hurt. 

On Wednesday, Miller released a statement about the incident and investigation.

This is my statement to inform the public about what happened regarding a recent traffic incident I was involved in, which occurred on February 9, 2021 (about two weeks ago).

There was a political meeting during that evening, which I was expected to attend.  After a long, full day at the office (7 a.m. to…), I drove my issued vehicle directly to where the meeting was being held, which was on a side street adjacent to Western Boulevard extension, in Jacksonville.  I arrived at that location at about 6:30 and made a right hand turn into another side street.

The lower part of my vehicle’s inner windshield was foggy, even though I operated my interior defroster fan at high setting.  Also, because of the existing low light condition, I rounded the corner from North Plain Road to Northwest Circle road too sharply, which caused the passenger side of my vehicle to make contact with a fire hydrant, which was very close to the curb.

When I heard the noise of the contact, I immediately stopped my vehicle to investigate.  I observed that the passenger side of my issued vehicle was scratched & also had a small hole.  I examined the fire hydrant and observed no damage.

I believed that the damage to my issued vehicle was less than a “reportable incident” and, observing no other damage to any other object, I continued into the parking lot, parked my vehicle and attended the meeting.  The meeting was well attended by citizens and I spoke to some.  I left the meeting & drove directly to my residence.

I completed an Onslow County Incident Report Form on the following day, February 10, 2021, stating the facts of the incident.

On February 22, 2021, I received a copy of a traffic accident investigation, which was fairly & impartially conducted by the Jacksonville Police Department.

I have accepted responsibility for this incident and will personally pay for the repairs to my county vehicle.  No taxpayer funds will be used. Above is my truthful statement and no further comments are necessary.    

Below are photos and other documents released involving the investigation.

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