ROBESON COUNTY, NC (WBTW) – The Robeson County detective struck by a truck in a construction zone remains hospitalized with a severe concussion, but is recovering.
Sheriff Burnis Wilkins posted on Facebook that Detective Stephen Matthew Lassiter has been taken off the ventilator and doctors are working to get his oxygen levels where they need to be.
Wilkins previously posted on Friday afternoon that Detective Lassiter’s medical staff will slowly begin the process of removing a ventilator over the next day or so. Lassiter remains heavily sedated, he said.
“Unbelievably, there appear to be no broken bones but a severe concussion calls for us to keep our faith in God and the doctors’ hands as we pray that Matt will overcome,“ Wilkins posted.
A man has been charged after his truck struck Lassiter while he was directing traffic. Lawrence Adair, II, of Hope Mills, NC, was driving a 2017 Ford truck at about 12:05 a.m., heading toward Parkton when he hit the detective, according to RCSO. Adair has been charged with failing to reduce speed.
“The guy that stuck him said that his attention diverted over to the blue light and wasn’t looking straight ahead,“ said Sheriff Wilkins.
Lassiter, 31, suffered severe head trauma and other injuries and was airlifted to McLeod Medical Center in Florence.
Lassiter was one of several deputies diverting traffic from I-95 south at Exit 33. Traffic was being sent over the bridge onto 301 north of St. Paul’s. Construction crews were working on the bridge.
“Matt is a very good friend of mine. I’ve known him ever since he was at the sheriff’s office. My heart goes out to him and I’m praying for him and his family,“ said Senator Danny Britt.
A RCSO post on Facebook reads: “Sheriff Burnis Wilkins is asking everyone to please pray for the Sheriff’s Investigator and his family as they await final results from testing being conducted at the hospital.“
A couple who lives nearby tell News13 that construction crews have been working on this bridge for about two weeks.
“We’re shocked, because we didn’t hear anything. The traffic gets real bad especially when the truckers are gearing up it down instead of hitting the brakes, it can wake you up,“ said Richard and Joice Hinson.
Senator Britt said the December death of Lumberton police officer Jason Quick prompted legislation that would make it into a felony for drivers who don’t slow down or move over.
“I was contacted by Jason’s spouse, Lea, shortly after he was killed in the line of duty. She asked me what needed to be done if she wanted to change a law and I said well, you’ve taken the first step,“ said Britt.
The legislation means a possibility of 10 to 41 months in jail, for those who cause a death of an emergency responder or law enforcement officer.
“I would think that anyone with common sense is going to do the right thing and slow down when they see those lights, but some folks are just in a hurry, and they don’t pay attention,“ said Britt.
The investigation is ongoing.
News 13 will provide updates as they become available.