2 Killed, NC State Trooper Seriously Injured in Western NC Crash

BALSAM - The state Highway Patrol has identified the two motorists killed in a two-car collision Tuesday in Haywood County.

The van's driver was Robert Lee Nelson, 84, and the passenger was Esther Matilda Nelson, 82, both of Eustis, Florida, according to Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Michael Baker.

Trooper Hunter T. Hooper, assigned to the Troop G, District 5 Highway Patrol office in Haywood County, was seriously injured in the collision.

Hooper was traveling in the westbound lane of U.S. 19/23/74 just before 3 p.m. with his lights and sirens on near Old Balsam Road and the Blue Ridge Parkway in Haywood County.

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The trooper was attempting to stop a vehicle, separate and apart from the crash, when the van, traveling east on U.S. 74, made a U-turn into the trooper’s path and was struck by the patrol vehicle in the westbound travel lane, Baker said.

Detours were set up Tuesday afternoon as both lanes of the highway were closed to clear and investigate the accident.

Hooper had surgery in Mission Hospital on Tuesday and is now recovering, Baker said.

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