Passenger Dead, Driver Charged After Car Runs Into Tree, Splits In Half In South Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — One person is dead and another is charged after a car struck a tree and split in half in south Charlotte Friday afternoon, officials say.

Officers with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department were called to Archdale Drive at Ashcrest Drive where a man was found outside of a white, 2007 Scion TC and the driver in the driver’s seat with injury.

Medic transported the driver, 21-year-old Jose Mario Mejia Gutierrez, to Atrium Health Center. The passenger, 19-year-old Faustino Israel Ponce Romero was pronounced dead on scene. His family has been notified of his death.

There were no other passengers in the vehicle at the time of the crash.

Police say the Scion was traveling west on Archdale Drive and ran off the roadway to the left after losing control while exiting a curve. After leaving the roadway, the Scion struck a tree with the front passenger door. The vehicle then separated in half with the rear half coming to a final resting position near the tree. The front half of the Scion continued traveling through a field rotating clockwise and during this process the victim, Romero, was ejected.

Both Romero and the front half of the Scion came to a final resting position approximately 150 feet west from the tree it struck.

After being released from Atrium Health Center, Gutierrez was arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless driving, no operators license, failure to maintain insurance on the Scion and failing to register the Scion.

Authorities say speed is a factor in the crash.

The crash is under investigation.