A Winston-Salem man and his wife were traveling Wednesday to a workshop on the South Carolina coast when their vehicle was involved in a crash, killing him and injuring his wife, authorities said.
Ward Beecher Miller, 65, died at the scene on Interstate 40 West in Iredell County, about 5 miles east of Statesville, the N.C. Highway Patrol said Thursday.
His wife, Vicky Miller, 66, was taken to the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, where she was in good condition Thursday, a hospital spokeswoman said.
James Robinson, the executive director of the Community Care Center of Forsyth County, said Miller and his wife were driving to the Isle of Palms, S.C., to attend a workshop on fundraising techniques for nonprofit organizations when their vehicle was struck by the tractor-trailer on I-40.
Miller had been working as the center’s director of development since 2017 and was involved with that organization’s fundraising efforts, Robinson said.
“Ward was a wonderful person,” Robinson said. “He had more friends than anyone that I’ve ever seen. Everyone loved being around him.”
The crash happened about 2:20 p.m. Wednesday when Miller had stopped his car in the right lane near the highway’s 156 and 155 mile markers, the highway patrol said. The westbound traffic had stopped because of a brush fire beside the highway.
A tractor-trailer swerved in an attempt to avoid the stopped traffic, but struck Miller’s vehicle, the Highway Patrol said. The tractor-trailer then also hit a pickup, which was pushed into another tractor-trailer.
The driver of the pickup, Walter Phipps, 63, of Mocksville was injured and was taken to Iredell Memorial Hospital in Statesville for treatment, the Highway Patrol said. Phipps was later released from the hospital.
Charles Marlow Jr., 51, of Hopewell, Pa., has been charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle and failure to reduce speed, the Highway Patrol said. Marlow is accused of causing Miller’s death by failing to reduce his vehicle’s speed, according to an arrest warrant.
Marlow was being held Thursday in the Iredell County Jail with his bond set at $5,000, the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office said. Marlow is scheduled to appear in court Dec. 2.
Miller’s other friends and colleagues remembered him Thursday as a cheerful, religious man who cared about the local community. Miller served on the board of directors for the N.C. Black Repertory Co. and the New Winston Museum.
A graduate of the College of Charleston, Miller began his career in banking at Wachovia Bank and Trust Co. in Winston-Salem in 1976. He rose through the ranks of the local banking industry before he retired as a senior vice president at NewBridge Bank in Winston-Salem several years ago.
Nigel Alston, the executive director of the N.C. Black Repertory Co., said he and Miller attended St. James AME Church in Winston-Salem for 42 years. The repertory company stages the National Black Theater Festival every two years in Winston-Salem, and Miller served on its fundraising committee, Alston said.
“Ward was enthusiastic and always had a smile on his face,” Alston said. “He had a deep faith, and he was a loving person.”
Mike Wakeford, the executive director of the New Winston Museum, said that Miller had a open, gregarious and generous personality.
“Wade exuded an optimism that if each of us know each other better, progress could be achieved,” Wakeford said. “Other board members know of his deep service to this community.”
Spence Broadhurst, a former chief banking officer at NewBridge Bank in Greensboro and a colleague of Miller, said that Miller was a popular banking leader in the Triad.
“Everybody loved him,” Broadhurst said. “Everyone in the bank loved him. Everyone in the community loved him.
“He (Miller) was an outstanding leader for us,” said Broadhurst, the regional president for Eastern North Carolina for First National Bank, which is based in Pittsburgh.
FNB acquired Newbridge in 2017 with its purchase of Yadkin Financial Corp.