Home News 93-year-old convicted in death of Marine veteran turned police officer

93-year-old convicted in death of Marine veteran turned police officer

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Deputy John Isenhour
Deputy John Isenhour. Photo: screenshot from embedded video

A 93-year-old woman will never drive again after she was convicted Tuesday of striking with her car a Forsyth County sheriff’s deputy who was directing traffic at Tanglewood Park in Clemmons as part of a charity benefit in 2016, ultimately resulting in the deputy’s death.

, 93, of Ivy Circle in Advance pleaded guilty in Forsyth District Court to one count of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle. She was accused of unintentionally failing to decrease her speed in her car, a 2006 Lexus, and hitting Deputy John Isenhour, who was standing in the road.

Isenhour died 10 days later.

Judge Camille Banks-Prince gave Cook a prayer for judgment continued, which means that no punishment was imposed, and ordered Cook to pay court costs. Cook had no prior criminal record.

“The defendant doesn’t have so much as a speeding ticket, your honor,” Forsyth County Assistant District Attorney C. Ruffin Sykes told Banks-Prince during the hearing.

Banks-Prince said that one of the conditions is that Cook can no longer drive. Her attorney, David Freedman, said she has already surrendered her driver’s license.

Isenhour, 38, a 17-year veteran of the Marine Corps before joining the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, was directing traffic Sept. 18, 2016, on Clemmons Road during the annual Bike MS: Tour to Tanglewood fundraiser. Just after 10 a.m., Isenhour was standing in the eastbound lane on Clemmons Road attempting to stop traffic when Cook’s car hit him.

The collision broke Isenhour’s neck, ribs, pelvis, both legs, nose and other facial bones.

He also suffered a traumatic brain injury, according to the Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office.

Isenhour died Sept. 28, 2016 at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

Sgt. Roger Mendenhall and Trooper Jonathan Sherrill of the N.C. Highway Patrol led the investigation. Sherrill said in court that Cook was driving 42 mph in a 45-mph zone and that there was no evidence that she was impaired or using her cell phone.

Cook had a restricted driver’s license that required her to use corrective lenses when she drove and prohibited her from driving more than 45 mph.

She also could not drive outside of a 50-mile radius of her home in Advance.

At the time of the incident, she was in compliance with those restrictions, according to the prosecutor’s office.

Cook told investigators that she didn’t see Isenhour and didn’t know what she had hit. Isenhour was wearing a black sheriff’s deputy uniform without a reflective vest. Sherrill said there were shadows from nearby trees.

Isenhour’s father, Charles Thomas Isenhour, 65, said John graduated from Riverside Military Academy and immediately enlisted in the military. Retiring after a long career with the Marine Corps, John wanted to be a state trooper in Kentucky but opted to become a Forsyth County sheriff’s deputy to be close to family.

Charles Isenhour said the last time he saw his son alive was in the hospital when his son looked at him through his left eye.

“I knew there would be no recovery,” said the elder Isenhour, who says he has gone through the pain of many deaths.

“I know from my faith that he is in a better place than he is on earth,” he said.

Charles Isenhour said he was upset that Cook never reached out to him and the rest of the Isenhour family to apologize. Freedman said he advised Cook to not talk to the family because he didn’t want there to be any perception that Cook was trying to influence the legal process. He said Cook was remorseful and has been cooperative with law-enforcement agencies in their investigation.

Cook said in court that she had wanted to reach out many times.

“I want them to know how grieved I am, how much I loved them, how much I would want to hold them in my arms and tell them I’m sorry for something that, in my eyes, was unavoidable,” she said.

Charles Isenhour said state law should be changed so that if it ever gets to the point where a person Cook’s age needs a restricted license, then maybe that person shouldn’t be driving at all.

Cook and Charles Isenhour hugged and talked after the hearing.

Nanette Isenhour, Isenhour’s widow, said she has lost 25 pounds since her husband died. The most sleep she has had is three hours. Their children have struggled to accept that their father is not coming home. She said her life has been destroyed.

“I have a lot of anger built up,” she said. “I have no compassion for this lady. She deserves more than this than a pat on the back for taking away a husband, a son and a father.”

mhewlett@wsjournal.com 336-727-7326 @mhewlettWSJ

© Copyright 2017, Winston-Salem Journal, Winston-Salem, NC

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