CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer was killed, and three other officers were injured, following a crash involving two trucks on Interstate 85 early Wednesday morning.
Officer Mia Goodwin, 33, a six-year veteran of the force, died when she and her fellow officers were hit by the trucks around 3:40 a.m.
"The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is hurting," Chief Johnny Jennings said. "We mourn the loss of Police Officer Goodwin."
Goodwin, and fellow officers Jackson Buffington, Sean Husk, and Shannon Foster, were assisting the North Carolina State Highway Patrol with closing a portion of the interstate in northeast Charlotte near West WT Harris Boulevard. These officers had relieved earlier officers who had closed the highway after a truck carrying grain spilled a sticky substance on the roadway around 10:30 p.m.
Around 1 a.m., enough of the roadway had been cleaned to allow one southbound lane to reopen. Around 3:40 a.m., two trucks traveling southbound collided. Those vehicles then collided with the CMPD officers, according to Jennings.
"We had an officer that had been hit while she was in her vehicle," Jennings explained. "[She] called it in and began assessing the injuries of the officers that were hurt on the scene including herself."
Goodwin succumbed to her injuries at the scene while Buffington, Husk, and Foster were transported by Medic to the hospital for treatment. All three were released from the hospital later Wednesday morning.
"Any officer that was on the scene was in the path of this collision," Jennings said.
Following an investigation at the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner's Office Wednesday, CMPD and the Charlotte Fire Department escorted Goodwin to a funeral home outside Uptown Charlotte with a procession Thursday. Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.
Goodwin had just returned to duty days prior after being on maternity leave. She leaves behind a 3-year-old child, a 1-year-old child, a 4-month-old baby, and husband Brenton Goodwin, who is a firefighter with the Charlotte Fire Department.
"She was a loving mother to her three kids," Jennings said.
Goodwin had joined CMPD on Oct. 26, 2015.
Donate to help the Goodwin family
The North Carolina Fraternal Order of Police chapter in Charlotte, along with the North Carolina chapter of the Back the Blue organization, had announced online fundraisers for Goodwin's family.
By Thursday, cumulative donations had surpassed $200,000, according to officials for the campaigns.
“Now the burden is going to be placed on the father shoulders as he tries to navigate this new reality of living without his wife and still having to hold down his career at the fire department,” Lindsay LiCausi, founder of Back the Blue NC, said.
"I do know that she had aspirations to do more," Jennings said. "She was already looking at guidance on how she can do more, and how she can advance more with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department... That's what we want out of all of our young officers."
Chief remembers dedicated officer
Goodwin worked overnights, a challenging shift for two first responders with three children.
"Imagine trying to be a mother to three kids, a husband who is a firefighter - whose jobs and hours are just as demanding," Jennings said.
"This profession is one that's not for everyone," he continued. "I do know that she knew it was for her. I know that she wanted to continue and make this a career and not just a job."
Truck driver charged
One of the truck drivers was taken to the hospital after the crash, according to officials.
"The officers, I can tell you, are distraught over what's happened. They're emotional over what happened," Jennings said. "What I also can tell you is thank God the officers that did survive are alive today. If you see the aftermath of the collision and what happened, we are fortunate that we're not talking about more officers that succumbed to injuries."
Jennings said the other three officers are "doing as well as expected."
An investigation is continuing to determine why the two trucks collided. Criminal charges against one of the truck drivers were announced Thursday.
CMPD was assisting the North Carolina State Highway Patrol when the deadly crash occurred. At that time of night, the state law enforcement agency has between two and four troopers covering the Charlotte area, a department spokesperson told WCNC Charlotte. In total, there are 34 troopers assigned to Charlotte.
Throughout the day, strangers from the community stopped to pay their respects at the CMPD University City Division off North Tryon Street and Ken Hoffman Drive.
"There are no words to express," Yvette Wade, a University City resident, said.
She and her husband stopped by the police station just hours after they heard the tragic news.
"She didn't leave her house thinking she wasn't going to return," she said as tears streamed down her face. "We just wanted to come out and just acknowledge and to show that, you know, she's loved."
Wednesday afternoon, Officer Goodwin's brothers and sisters in blue made room for and drove a patrol car in front of the police station so the community could build a memorial around it.
As night fell, families trickled out in the cold and laid flowers on and around the car to show their support.
"I would want it done for me," Crystal Ashe, who brought her two young sons to show their respect, said.
"Being a new mom and coming out back out on the streets with three babies at home, to do what she did, she deserves everybody's' respect," she added.
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The Charlotte Fire Department released this statement:
"On behalf of the men and women of @charlottefire I want to express our deepest sympathies to the family, friends, and members of @CMPD," Charlotte Fire Department Chief Reginald Johnson wrote on Twitter. "We stand ready to support and assist in any way."
Goodwin's husband is a firefighter with the Charlotte Fire Department.
Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles releases video statement:
"We can never take for granted the service of officers in CMPD," Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles said in a video statement Wednesday. "My prayers for the family and the department and every member of the department as we go through this difficult time."
Charlotte City Manager Marcus Jones sent a statement that reads in part
"Families go to sleep every night across Charlotte knowing they'll be safe because of the courage, pride, and dedication of our CMPD officers. During this time of year, when many families will be spending time together and enjoying the blessings of this season, I ask that all Charlotteans keep the family and friends of Officer Goodwin in their hearts."
Statement from the Mecklenburg County Sheriff
The Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office released a statement that reads:
"MCSO sends our deepest condolences to the family of CMPD Officer MMia Goodwin who proudly served the University City Division."
Gov. Cooper has issued the following statement regarding the collision
Jennings said he spoke on the phone Wednesday morning with North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, who also released this statement on Twitter:
"Our hearts are with family, friends & Charlotte Mecklenburg PD on the loss of Officer Mia Goodwin who was killed on duty during a traffic collision. I've talked with Chief Jennings to offer support & sympathy. Grateful for officers who take risks every day to keep us safe."
The North Carolina Highway Patrol issued this statement:
CMPD was assisting the North Carolina Highway Patrol when the crash occurred. The state agency released this statement Wednesday morning:
"@NCSHP wishes to express our deepest condolences and sympathies to Officer Goodwin, her family and the members of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department in light of such an unspeakable tragedy."
An additional statement was released by the FBI field office in Charlotte:
Other law enforcement agencies, including the FBI field office in Charlotte, are also expressing their condolences:
"Our hearts are broken for our @CMPD family. We are sending our love and support after the death of Officer Mia Goodwin this morning."
Interstate 85 reopened before 5 p.m. on Wednesday.
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