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Special prosecutor says no charges in accident involving Onslow Co. sheriff

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 5:50 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 5, 2021 at 2:30 PM EST
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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - A special prosecutor says no charges will be brought against Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller after he failed to report a traffic accident to police last month.

Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West issued the ruling this afternoon.

West was brought in to examine the Jacksonville police investigation into the February 9th accident after Onslow County D.A. Ernie Lee recused himself from the case.

The accident happened around 6:30 p.m. on North Plain Road. The sheriff said his county-issued SUV struck a fire hydrant as he turned onto Northwest Circle.

Damage to the SUV was listed at $3,674.21, according to county documents.

State law says a driver must report an accident if there is a death, someone is injured, or total damage is over $1,000.

West said Miller was going five miles per hour at the time, wasn’t injured, did not damage the fire hydrant, “and in darkness observed a scratch and small hole to the rear passenger’s side door of his vehicle.”

The district attorney says it was reasonable for the sheriff to conclude that this was not a reportable crash under state law.

Miller said he was paying for the damage to the county vehicle out of his own pocket.

ORIGINAL STORY

A district attorney is recusing himself from an investigation into a vehicle crash involving an Eastern Carolina sheriff.

District Attorney Ernie Lee says that he has asked Billy West, the Cumberland County District Attorney, to review any investigation and reports regarding an accident involving Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller.

On Monday, Lee says that he was contacted by Jacksonville Police Chief Mike Yaniero about a single vehicle crash involving Miller that happened on or about February 9th.

Lee says that Yaniero said Jacksonville police would begin an investigation into the crash.

Lee says because he’s known 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.”

WITN has obtained an incident report from Onslow County Government officials about the crash.

The report is dated February 10th and says the crash happened at 6:30 p.m. the night before.

In a county incident report, Miller writes, “I (Hans Miller) rounded a curve at North Plain Road to Northwest Circle. My vehicle’s windshield was foggy on the lower portion & limited my lower visibility. (darkness) I cut the curve too sharply, resulting in a fire hydrant at the curve, which was very close to the road, making contact with the lower passenger side of my issued vehicle, causing a scratch and a hole in the passenger doors. I examined the vehicle & the fire hydrant & observed no damage on the fire hydrant.”

Documents say the Dodge Durango had an estimated or approximate $3,674.21 in damage as a result of the crash.

A box checked off in the incident report says there were no witnesses to the crash.

There’s no information on the county documents obtained by WITN that the sheriff notified police about the accident.

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