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A North Carolina police officer, the son of a former Army soldier and a retired police chief, was hit and killed Sunday morning when an alleged drunk driver killed him and his accomplice in a separate accident on the highway early Sunday. responded to.

Knightdale police officer Ryan Hayworth, a three-month veteran of the force and former member of the US military, was killed in a vehicle collision on Interstate 540 at about 2:39 a.m. Sunday. Hayworth, 23, was also the eldest son of retired Zebulone Police Chief Timothy Hayworth. WTVD informed of.

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Police said Knightdale officers were investigating a vehicle accident on I-540 when their cruiser was struck from behind by another car in the eastbound lanes near Mile Marker 22. Hayworth’s training officer, Cody Hagler, was taken to Wake Medical Center in Raleigh, NC for injuries police said were serious but not life-threatening. The motorist involved in the first crash and the driver of the suspect vehicle were also seriously injured, Assistant City Manager Dustin Tripp said in a preliminary press release.

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“Alcohol is believed to have played a factor and charges are pending,” the release said.

“The loss of Ryan is an indescribable tragedy for our department and our community,” Knightdale Police Chief Lawrence Capps said in a statement. “The pain of his death was felt by his family, friends and those who know him best. As we begin the healing process, we ask that you join us in a season of prayer for all those who have been touched forever. Gone by this heart-wrenching incident.”

Hayworth, a graduate of East Wake Academy, was sworn into the Knightdale Police Department on July 21.

“As we continue this tragedy, other area police departments are providing help to us,” the Knightdale Police Department said in an update on Facebook around Sunday afternoon. “Be advised that you may see units in the surrounding jurisdiction assisting with patrols in Knightdale.”

The North Carolina Highway Patrol, which took over the investigation, later said that Dedrick Romero Privet, 40, of Knightdale, was driving a 2011 Mercedes Benz S550 east on I-540 when he hit the crash site. Arrived and failed. slow it down, WNCN informed of. The driver involved in the previous crash was also identified as Michael Roth Melugin, Jr., 45, of Cary.

WNCN reported that a police vehicle caught fire during the accident and firefighters were at the scene later on Sunday morning. The North Carolina Department of Transportation was asking drivers to take an alternate route during the temporary road closure as the scene was processed.