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UPDATE: Valdese woman charged with DWI after wreck
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UPDATE: Valdese woman charged with DWI after wreck

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DREXEL — One woman was charged and transported to the hospital after a head-on collision on U.S. 70 in Drexel on Friday evening.

Sandra Powell Searson, 56, of Valdese, was charged with driving while impaired, driving left of center and reckless driving, according to Trooper J. Alllen with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.

According to witnesses, Searson was driving west on U.S. 70 near Foothills Thrift Shop and swerving across the center line several times before the collision.

Neal Singleton, a witness to the wreck, was behind Searson before the collision. He said that she turned around at an auto shop on U.S. 70.

“She started crossing the center line, then she went back across the edge of the road, and she kept doing that several times,” Singleton said. “I tried to call 911 to report reckless driving, but it was too late.”

Searson, who was driving a Toyota Camry, hit a Honda Pilot headed east on U.S. 70 causing it to spin and end up in a ditch, Allen said.

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Other factors indicating driving while impaired were alcohol on her breath, two positive readings after administering a breathalyzer test and red, glassy eyes, according to Allen.

Searson was transported to Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge by Burke County EMS, Allen said.

Occupants in the Honda Pilot were going to drive themselves to the hospital to be evaluated, he said.

Larry Goble, who was at a nearby residence, overheard the crash and saw the Pilot spinning after the collision.

“I just came over there to see if there was anything I could do,” Goble said.

There are additional pending charges for Searson depending on the extent of the injuries of those in the other vehicle, Allen said.

The responding agencies, along with NCSHP and Burke EMS, were Burke REACT, Morganton Public Safety and Triple Community Fire Department.

Jonelle Bobak and Chrissy Murphy are staff writers. Bobak can be reached at 828-432-8907 Murphy can be reached at 828-432-8941 or

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