No Charges For Police Officer Who Fell Asleep While Driving

A Smithfield police officer who fell asleep at the wheel of his patrol car and collided with a utility pole will not face any traffic charges.  The accident caused approximately $7,000 in damage to the marked police cruiser.

The mishap was reported Friday, July 23rd around 4:25am on South Fourth Street near E. Johnston Street.   According to an accident report, Officer C.E. VanHalen was traveling north on South Fourth Street in a 2017 Dodge Charger when he admitted to falling asleep and running off the roadway.  The car ran onto the curb and the front right side of the cruiser struck a utility pole.

Officer VanHalen was not injured.  There were no passengers in the patrol car and no other vehicles involved.  There was no damage to the utility pole, owned by the Town of Smithfield.

Police Chief Keith Powell said Monday the incident was being handled internally as a personnel matter.     

According to the report, the officer was traveling at 15mph when the collision occurred.  There were no tire impressions or skid marks prior to impact.  The patrol car traveled 5 feet after hitting the light pole.  The officer was wearing his seat belt.


  1. 15 mph wouldn’t do that to a tire , this is a cover up to try and save what little reputation amps had left

  2. Nothing to see here, I’m sure average Joe Citizen wouldn’t face charges either.
    Back the Blue! Full funding for the PD! #Hypocrites

  3. “We’ve investigated ourselves and decided we didn’t do anything wrong.” – The police.

    • What traffic violation did the officer “willfully” and “unlawfully” commit. He is responsible for the damage…..

      • He knowingly operated a motor vehicle while impaired for starters. You would have been booked into the Johnston County Jail.

        • So Carl, based on your definitions of “impaired,” we can assume that when you fall asleep in your rocking chair while watching the evening news, we can say that you were impaired? You ever work split shifts? Didn’t think so. It’s ok, some people aren’t made for that kind of work. Even some that do it aren’t meant for it, but everyone makes mistakes, especially when you have that kind of schedule. I’m sure he’s embarrassed enough as it is. Then idiots get on here and say stupid things when they’ve done no better.

  4. There is *absolutely* no way 15mph would have caused that much damage to that wheel. Sincerely, someone in the automotive repair industry.

    • Working the cash register at an auto parts store doesn’t give you auto repair knowledge darlin. Sit back down.

  5. Too many heroes and experts on here. I didn’t know JOCO was full of investigators and crash scientist.

  6. Tell me where there is $7,000 in damages? I do not see it. I had a car wrecked more than this and it was only $4,500. I got new hood, bumper, quarter panel, & door.
    This is quarter panel, wheel, tire, and finder well.

    • dont know how much damage is there until you take the wheel off the car and get a look at your inner wheel components i.e inner and outer tie rods, control arms, ball joints, struts, and all your sensors and cant forget the integrity of your brakes. a lot more than what is just in a photo. i do collision estimates. also Mopar parts are not cheap and based off year and mileage they might be replacing with OEM parts you likely got LKQ parts which are usually a world cheaper. just saying.

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