New court date set for Beth Wood’s hit-and-run charges | Eastern North Carolina Now

    Publisher's Note:This post appears here courtesy of the Carolina Journal. The author of this post is Theresa Opeka.

    Anew court date has been set for North Carolina State Auditor Beth Wood, who was allegedly involved in a hit-and-run incident on Dec. 8 in downtown Raleigh.

    Wood did not show up for her initial hearing Thursday morning in administrative court. Her attorney, Roger W. Smith Jr of the Tharrington Smith Law Firm, appeared instead before a magistrate. He told the magistrate that Wood had waived a reading of the charges against her.

    The magistrate set a new hearing date of March 23 at 2 p.m.

    The accident occurred on Dec. 8 near the intersection of Salisbury and Hargett streets in downtown Raleigh.

    Wood, a Democrat, was charged on Dec. 12 with a Class 2 misdemeanor for hit-and-run, leaving the scene, property damage, and an infraction for unsafe movement.

    Video obtained by WRAL appears to show Wood being led into the law office of Rufus Edmisten, a former N.C. secretary of state and Watergate lawyer, while her car remains in the intersection on top of Chris Valverde's car.

    Valverde, of Pinehurst, had lent the car to his daughter so she could get to work that night.

    Wood initially referred requests for comment to her attorney, but on Monday, she issued the following statement to reporters:

    "On the evening of December 8, 2022, I attended a holiday gathering in downtown Raleigh. I was at the event for approximately two hours. When I left, I made a sharp right turn and inadvertently hit a parked car. I was shaken by the incident and, when I was unable to move my vehicle, I left the scene. That was a serious mistake and I regret my decision.

    "The next morning, I notified State Motor Fleet Management that I was involved in an accident and subsequently was cited by police for unsafe movement and for failing to provide my name and other information to the owner of the car or a law enforcement officer.

    "I sincerely regret my actions and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement. I have served the people of North Carolina as their State Auditor since 2009. I made a mistake in judgment on December 8, but I am committed to continuing to perform my duties with the same energy and determination I am known for.

    "I apologize to the owner of the car I hit, my staff and all I serve for leaving the scene of the accident. I have learned from this mistake and am fully accepting personal responsibility for my actions."

    "Mrs. Wood has made her bed and now has to sleep in it," said Valverde in a written statement to WGHP-TV in the Triad. "I just hope that the justice system is fair and impartial when handling this case and not use her position as a privilege to skate out of it unscathed. What she did is wrong. Not only the hit and run, but the lack of communication with me and the people of North Carolina as well. Her silence speaks volumes of her character and how she handles tough situations, I can only imagine how she handles tough situations when it comes to the duties and responsibilities of being the state auditor."

    In an interview with WRAL-TV in Raleigh, Valverde said he didn't discover the name of the other driver until Jan. 6.

    "I'm just kind of in awe," Valverde told WRAL. "One, like, how could something happen like that? And two, why would someone just flee the scene like that? ... We trust our government officials to be responsible in everything they do, and I think that was very irresponsible of her to flee the scene."

    Meanwhile, the N.C. Republican Party is calling on Wood to resign, and a billboard has gone up in Youngsville making the same demand.

    Valverde released a statement on the incident, accusing her of a lack of transparency.

    Also on January 23, the Raleigh News & Observer reported that Wood's spokesperson, Lane Rosen, has resigned. Rosen said his resignation was "already planned" and "unrelated" to the accident, according to the N&O.

    Rosen posted a video on his TikTok account in which he announced he was quitting his job. "Come with me to quit my state government job working as a communications specialist for an elected official who just got charged with a misdemeanor hit-and-run," Rosen said.

    David Bass contributed to this article.
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