ALE files charges after local teen’s death

Published 5:53 pm Saturday, December 5, 2009

ELIZABETH CITY – The N.C. Division of Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE) has charged a Gates County store clerk and a business with selling alcohol to a teenager who died Nov. 8 in a single-car accident in the town of Gates.

According to a press release sent late Friday afternoon to the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Joyce Wilson Parker of 1089 Silver Springs Road, Sunbury was charged on Dec. 4 with selling malt beverages to an underage person, a violation of General Statute 18B-302(a)(1).

The business in which Parker was an employee, Family Foods of Sunbury Inc., 1000 Hwy. 158, Sunbury, was charged with an administration violation with the N.C. Alcohol Beverage Commission for being in violation of the same law.

ALE Special Agent Rodney Parker determined that Cody Francis Herman, 19, of 289 Bosley Road, Sunbury, bought a significant quantity of alcoholic beverages from Family Foods on the evening of Nov. 7. Herman later attended two house parties in Gates County where he allegedly consumed the alcoholic beverages.

At 12:53 a.m. on Nov. 8, Herman was operating a 1995 Ford Mustang, traveling east on Gates Bank Road (RP 1302). According to a report filed by North Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper G.L. Bunch, the vehicle ran off the right side of the road and then came back on the roadway, left of center, before traveling off the right side once again. There, Bunch’s report showed that the vehicle struck a ditch and then impacted a driveway culvert, causing the car to become airborne. It then struck a mailbox and two trees before coming to rest, on the driver’s side, on a ditch bank.

Trooper Bunch said Herman was not wearing a seat belt and was trapped inside the vehicle.

Herman was airlifted to Sentara Norfolk (Va.) General Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Suspecting alcohol to be a contributing factor in the accident, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol asked the ALE District I Office in Elizabeth City to investigate the case.

Agent Parker collected evidence through interviews and from the scene.

“Unfortunately it sometimes takes the tragic loss of life to bring to light the seriousness surrounding underage alcohol use,” Parker said. “This serves as a grim reminder to underage people and those who provide alcohol to them about the serious consequences.”

ALE officials said the investigation is still on-going and more charges may be forthcoming.

Meanwhile, Herman’s parents have requested that their son’s wrecked vehicle be placed at Gates County High School through the holiday season to remind other teens of the dangers of drinking and driving.

Cody Herman, a 2008 Gates County High School graduate, was a student at The College of the Albemarle. He was a former football athlete at GCHS.