Driver who caused crash that killed 5 in Belmont pleads guilty, sentenced to 20 years

Dakeia Charles was sentenced to 250-324 months in prison by a Superior Court Judge.
Dakeia Charles was sentenced to at least 20 years in prison after he caused an accident that killed five people in 2020.
Published: Sep. 1, 2022 at 4:43 PM EDT
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BELMONT, N.C. (WBTV) - A man charged in a Belmont crash that killed five people on I-485 in 2020, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison, the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Dakeia Charles, 26, pleaded guilty to five counts of second-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, speeding, reckless driving, driving while impaired and failure to comply with a license restriction.

Charles was sentenced to 250-324 months in prison by a Superior Court Judge.

Previous Coverage: Driver charged with murder in crash that killed five people along I-485

The crash took place in July 2020 on I-485 near W.T. Harris Boulevard. Four of the five people killed were family members, including a 7-year-old and 12-year-old girl.

Charles was driving recklessly at high speeds of more than 100 miles per hour and weaving in and out of traffic. At some point, he sideswiped a box truck that was driving in the plane beside him, and his vehicle became wedged under the box’s axle.

Due to this, the driver of the box truck lost control and crossed over the median into oncoming traffic. The truck began to spin and the rear of the truck went up and over another vehicle, killing 58-year-old Mark Barlaan, who was riding in the backseat of that vehicle.

This caused 34-year-old Matthew Obester, who was driving an SUV, to attempt to avoid the collision but crashed into the spinning box truck. He, his wife, Andrea, 39, and the two young daughters were killed.

Obester’s mother Lynn Sherrill and son Jacob spoke during in court during the sentencing.

“They had a full life ahead of them and it’s been taken by the careless, senseless action of this young man,” Sherill said in part.

Jacob was not in the car at the time of the crash.

Sherill told WBTV she was proud of him for speaking in court.

“He looked that man right in the eye, and it was hard, but he said four people, you took my four family members from me,” she said.

Charles was injured and his blood alcohol content was 0.07. Due to a previous DWI in another county, Charles had been ordered to abide by a license restriction that prohibited him from driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.04 or more.

“It’s murder with a vehicle, it’s like a loaded gun,” she said. “You have to be of sound mind when you’re in it.”

Two years later, the pain is still there, but so are the beautiful memories.

“They had so much life,” she said. “They were my horse girls. I know my angels are around.”

She also says she knows her only son would want her to be happy.

“Live every day to the fullest, love every day to the fullest, hug them all the time,” she said. “Wake up and be happy God let you get up that day.”

Sherrill created the Obester Family Memory Garden in honor of her family and her granddaughters’ love of nature and horses.

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