Chief Master Sgt. Hector Soler, Security Forces Manager at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, turned himself in to Goldsboro police Thursday evening on charges of felony death by motor vehicle.
Soler walked out of the Wayne County Magistrate's Office 40 minutes later free on a $75,000 secured bond.
Charges against Soler were upgraded Thursday afternoon from felony serious injury by motor vehicle after Johny Robert Watson, the 17-year-old Soler struck with his vehicle while allegedly driving drunk Saturday night, succumbed to his injuries.
Watson died shortly after his family had him taken off of life support at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville where the teen had lingered for almost a week following emergency surgery and being put into a medically induced coma.
According to a GoFundMe page set up for the teen after the crash, Watson's family allowed the hospital to remove his organs to be donated before doctors disconnected the machines keeping their son alive.
The hospital will be flying a white flag for the next 48 hours signifying the organ donation ---- a tradition marking such occassions ---- honoring Watson's gift of life and his memory.
Soler, 47, is also charged with driving while impaired and failure to reduce speed.
He arrived quietly at the magistrate's office at about 7:30 p.m. Thursday, a time previously agreed upon with law enforcement, wearing an all gray sweat suit with the hood up over his head. Soler was accompanied by his attorney, Dustin B. Pittman.
Pittman, an attorney with Strickland, Agner & Associates, declined at the magistrate's office to provide his phone number so he could be contacted later for comment.
Soler's charges stem from a two vehicle wreck that took place on South George Street near Carver Boulevard at around 11:30 p.m. Saturday.
According to the accident report, Soler crashed into the back of Watson's Jeep going 70 mph. His blood alcohol content at the time of the wreck was .16 -- more than twice the legal limit -- according to an accident report.
Soler sent Watson's Jeep flying 159 feet into a utility pole at the intersection of South George Street and Carver Boulevard, the report said.
Soler told police Watson's car was parked in the roadway with no headlights on when he struck the car, but Goldsboro Police Chief Mike West said that is not the case.
"His lights were on, and he was going between 20 and 25 mph, possibly slowing down for the railroad tracks," West said.
According to the report, Soler's speedometer was stuck at 70 mph after the crash.
Watson was initially taken to Wayne Memorial Hospital with severe head injuries and then flown to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville.
Soler was arrested after the crash, taken to the Wayne County Jail and given a $20,000 secured bond for an initial charge of felony serious injury by motor vehicle. He was also given a $2,000 unsecured bond for the charges of DWI and failure to reduce speed, according to arrest reports.
Capt. Leann Rabun with the Goldsboro Police Department said the charge of felony death by motor vehicle with replace the original charge of felony serious injury by motor vehicle.
West said Soler paid his bond immediately after being booked in the jail in the twilight hours of Sunday morning.
Soler is the Security Forces Manager for the 4th Security Forces Squadron at SJAFB.

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Tragic all around...

Seen commenters on other sites speculating over whether or not the Chief gets to keep his stripes and retire, etc.

That will be the least of his concerns as I'm guessing he's looking at 10+ years in prison....rightfully so. And no, he won't get to keep his stripes or retire. Assuming he's convicted.

Condolences to the family...