Man charged with murder, DWI in fatal crash

Kevin Ohagan

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by DIANA RUGG / NewsChannel 36
E-mail Diana: Diana.Rugg@wcnc.com

Bio | Email | Follow: @DianaRuggwcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on October 24, 2010 at 2:22 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 25 at 10:24 AM

MONROE, N.C. -- A 29-year-old Monroe man with a history of DWI convictions is in jail after, police said, he hit another driver head-on and killed him while running from a traffic stop early Sunday in Monroe.

Monroe police have charged Kevin Michael Ohagan with second-degree murder, driving while impaired, felony death by vehicle and driving without a license for the wreck that killed Daniel Herring, 41. 

Herring was driving home from a hayride at his church when he was killed just after midnight Sunday morning on Secrest Shortcut near Willis Long Road, according to the church's pastor.  Herring had been playing the role of Jesus on the hayride, which took participants through the Bible along its course.

The pastor declined further comment, saying the church is devastated by the loss of one of its elders.

Monroe police said an officer had pulled Ohagan over just up the road from where he wrecked, but as the officer approached Ohagan's car, he took off. By the time the officer caught up, Ohagan's truck had already crossed the center line at a high speed and crashed into Herring's truck, killing him instantly.

"We just heard a huge noise," said Michael Slifer, who pointed out where the cars collided in front of his driveway.  He and his sister Amanda ran to help.
 
"It's just like an explosion and then you could hear them turn, and hit the tree," said Amanda. "And then everything got really silent."
 
When Michael Slifer reached Herring's truck, he said it was obvious he couldn't do anything to help. He turned his attention to the other truck, which had spun around and hit a tree rear-end first. Ohagan was behind the wheel, and both he and his passenger were unconscious. Slifer smelled alcohol.

"You walk up to the truck and you could clearly smell it," said Slifer. "And the passenger, she was just sitting there holding one -- still had it in her hand after the wreck."

Police haven't released the passenger's name, but say she is in stable condition at Carolinas Medical Center.
 
Ohagan has a long criminal record dating back to his teen years, including at least four DWI convictions, and one additional conviction as a habitual offender. Ohagan's first arrest was in October 1998, just days before his 17th birthday. Arrests followed in June and July 2000 and November 2006.
 
Ohagan's rap sheet also includes multiple other charges for assault, breaking and entering, eluding police, and even one felony child abuse charge inflicting serious injury in 2007. His court date is set for November 1 on that charge.

Now, he faces a murder charge for Herring's death.

"He killed somebody this time," said Slifer. "It makes a little bit of a difference."
 
Michael and Amanda Slifer said they never want to see anything like this again, and want it to be a lesson to others about driving drunk.
 
"I'm never going to do it," said Amanda. "I hope everybody else doesn’t do it either."
 
Ohagan is in Union County jail under a $500,000 bond.  His first appearance in court is scheduled for Monday.

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