The death of Becky Howell, 27, of Lansing, who died of injuries after allegedly jumping from a moving pick-up truck near Fleetwood Wednesday night, is still being investigated by the N.C. Highway Patrol as an accident.
According to the driver of the truck and an eyewitness, Howell is alleged to have tried three times to jump from the vehicle as it travelled down West Mill Creek Road at around 7:15 p.m., said Sgt. Colin Maultsby of the North Carolina Highway Patrol.
Trooper Jason D. Brown, who is handling the investigation, was not available for comment.
Howell and the driver of the truck were “in a boyfriend/girlfriend-type relationship,” Maultsby said.
The driver reported that Howell unsuccessfully attempted to jump out of the truck twice, but he had pulled her back in, Maultsby said.
On the third attempt, she jumped out of the truck, according to the driver’s report of the incident.
An eyewitness who saw Howell trying to jump out of the truck as it drove by his front yard reported that he heard the driver in a loud voice telling her to get back in the car, Maultsby said.
The three alleged jump attempts were made in the space of about a quarter mile, but the vehicle’s speed has not yet been determined, he said.
The driver reported that he slowed down each time Howell tried to jump out, Maultsby said.
“By definition, this is not a motor vehicle accident,” he said, but the NCHP is treating it as such. The NCHP is working with the ACSO in a “joint investigation,” he said.
On Thursday, the Jefferson Post reported that, according to Sheriff James Williams, the investigation had been passed to the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office.
But, Maultsby said, while the ACSO was informed of the incident and asked to look into any possible criminal aspects, reports that the investigation was handed off were incorrect, and due to miscommunication between departments.