Jeffrey Blain Bumgarner, 57, of Hickory, was given an active prison sentence of 44 to 65 months following his conviction for felony death by vehicle, driving while impaired and felony hit and run/death.
The Honorable Steven Warren, Superior Court Judge from Buncombe County, issued the prison term for Bumgarner after he pleaded guilty to the offenses that claimed the life of 58-year-old Charles Shook Jr. during Catawba County Superior Court on Monday, December 17, 2019.
The defendant will serve his period of incarceration in the custody of the North Carolina Division of Adult Corrections. Shook’s family agreed with the plea and its terms.
“I’m sorry it happened, not because I’m going to prison but because it took someone’s life,” Bumgarner told the family and the Court.
Bumgarner was responsible for the motor vehicle crash that led to Shook’s death on February 10, 2018.
On that date, Bumgarner was traveling southeast on U.S. 70 in Hickory when he failed to maintain his lane, drifted to his left in his pickup truck and struck Shook’s pickup in its right rear area. The impact caused Shook to lose control, and his truck went off the roadway, rolled over and struck a tree, which led to his death.
Bumgarner drove away from the scene before stopping to call and report the crash. He first indicated that he had been the victim of a hit and run but later told investigators that he caused it.
Field sobriety tests given at the scene showed signs that Bumgarner was impaired. A chemical analysis showed that he had methadone and alprazolam in his system.
A friend of Shook’s family read a statement on their behalf, saying, “Our lives have been changed forever. We lost a dear man that day. He loved life. He loved being with people.”
The case was investigated by officers with Hickory Police Department. Melanie Earles handled prosecution for the District Attorney’s Office.
CONTACT: Nathan Key