SUV driver charged after crash with church van injures 17 in North Carolina

Police in North Carolina said 17 people were hospitalized early Sunday after an SUV collided with a church van on a highway near Stokesdale, about 30 miles north of Greensboro. No fatalities were immediately reported.

The van was carrying a group from a Jehovah's Witness congregation in Martinsville, Va., to Salisbury, N.C., state police said. It was traveling southwest on U.S. Highway 158 near Stokesdale at around 7 a.m. Sunday when a northbound Chevrolet Blazer crossed the road's center line.

The SUV's driver, identified as Diadra Rachel Shaffer, was charged with driving while impaired, careless and reckless driving, misdemeanor child abuse and other charges, police said. She was also facing a charge of driving with a revoked license, WFMY-TV reported.

Shaffer, 35, of Stokesdale, was driving with her month-old infant in the back seat. Shaffer’s family could not be immediately reached for comment Sunday, The Associated Press reported.

Two people were flown by emergency helicopter for hospital treatment, state police said.

The accident closed the highway for about six hours so crews could clean up gasoline spilled at the scene.

Follow Greg Toppo on Twitter: @gtoppo


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