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WINDSOR – A record award was handed down here Tuesday afternoon.

A Bertie County jury returned a $1.75 million award after finding negligence in the 2004 death of Franklin Tracy Byrum, Jr.

Byrum was killed April 20, 2004 when the truck he was operating was broadsided by an 18-wheeler that failed to stop at the traffic signal at Midway (intersection of U.S. 17 and N.C. 45).

According to lead attorney Lloyd Smith, Jr. of Windsor, the wrongful death action began January 23 with the jury selection and continued until Tuesday. Smith, who along with Mickey McLean, represented the plaintiffs, called 19 witnesses during the trial, including a host of several volunteer firefighters and rescue personnel.

Smith and McLean represented Byrum’s widow, Melissa, who filed the suite as Administrator of the Byrum’s estate. It was filed against Chonbrey Torneeka Armstrong doing business as Armstrong Trucking.

“I think the award speaks really well of what a wonderful guy Tracy Byrum was and what a wonderful family he was taken from,” Smith said. “I really would like to thank the law officers and the rescue personnel who gave of their time to tell their story.”

Two of the people called included Ricky White, who was the Rescue Squad Chief for Bertie County, and Ashley Futrell, a Jamesville man who was a volunteer firefighter and saw the accident.

The plaintiff’s legal team also called Sean Dennis, a Reconstructionist, and Dr. J. C. Poindexter, who is an expert economist from North Carolina State University.

State Highway Patrolman S. A. Mize, who investigated the accident, also helped reconstruct the scene and provided testimony during the civil action.

The man operating the vehicle, Armstrong, was charged with death by a motor vehicle and pled to lesser charges of running a red light and careless and reckless driving. The plea, which was reached by District Attorney Valerie Mitchell-Asbell with the blessing of the family, was admissible in the civil suit.

“You can’t bring back people that have gone on, but the money will help the family cope with the future,” Smith said. “I’ve gotten to know Missy, Buddy and Vicki during the ordeal. They are salt of the earth people.”

“I think the size of the verdict shows the quality of man Tracy was and speaks well of his wife, son and his family,” he closed.

Disclaimer: Case results depend on a variety of factors unique to each case. Previous results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Testimonials are specifically selected for their favorable content.

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