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    US Army veteran dies in collision after Buncombe sheriff chase; DA not informed of death

    By Ryley Ober, Asheville Citizen Times,

    27 days ago

    ASHEVILLE - After a June 6 vehicle pursuit by the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office, an Army veteran died in a single-vehicle crash on Charlotte Highway, an incident that the law enforcement agency failed to report to District Attorney's Office, according to DA Todd Williams.

    At about 9:50 p.m. June 6, a vehicle was traveling north on Charlotte Highway “while fleeing from the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department,” according to a collision report from N.C. State Highway Patrol.

    Around a curve in the highway, the driver – identified as Adam Kyle Titpon, 36, of Ellenboro – lost control of the vehicle, crossed into the southbound lane and struck a guardrail off the left side of the road near Frenwood Mobile Home Park, the report said. He was traveling at approximately 100 mph, according to 1st Sgt. Barry Burnette with Highway Patrol.

    Tipton was transferred to Mission Hospital but died four days later from injuries he sustained in the single-vehicle collision, according to the report.

    Earlier on the night of the accident, Buncombe County Public Safety Communications Center received multiple calls about a possible impaired driver on Charlotte Highway, according to a statement from the sheriff’s office.

    “Deputies responded and conducted a traffic stop,” the statement said. “The vehicle stopped initially but then fled once the deputy approached.”

    The sheriff’s office did not respond to a Citizen Times question on whether the deputy continued pursuing Tipton’s car after the initial traffic stop.

    Highway Patrol is investigating the collision at the request of the sheriff’s office but is not looking into whether sheriff deputies followed protocol during the pursuit and whether it contributed to the crash, according to Burnette.

    “As far as our investigation goes, it’s limited strictly to the crash,” Burnette told the Citizen Times. “The preceding chase or pursuit, that’s the sheriff’s department’s investigation.”

    In 2020, local law enforcement and the DA’s Office signed a "Memorandum of Understanding" on handling potential officer misconduct following a 2017 incident in which Williams said police did not make a timely and full disclosure about a white officer's beating of a Black pedestrian, Johnny Rush.

    After incidents that may involve officer misconduct — such as an officer-involved shooting or fatality — law enforcement has agreed to notify the district attorney for his office to review evidence of potential officer misconduct and determine whether there should be an investigation into the officer’s actions.

    In this case, the DA was not notified, Williams said, and that he learned about the pursuit and subsequent death on June 13 from a TV news report.

    "My office has reached out to the Highway Patrol to confirm what their efforts have been. They have confirmed that they have reviewed a video in possession of the sheriff’s office," Williams told the Citizen Times June 13.

    “We are requesting that they share the video with us so that we can review it and make a determination about whether a whole investigation is appropriate.”

    Deputy Chief Hubert Blake with the sheriff’s office said the DA is not normally notified by law enforcement agencies for vehicle crashes.

    Williams said he’s unaware if the sheriff’s office has conducted an internal investigation into the preceding chase.

    Tipton, the driver, served two tours in Afghanistan as a former U.S. Army Sergeant, according to his online obituary. He had two daughters, a son and a wife. The Citizen Times attempted to reach his family.

    The Army veteran was a member of Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in Ellenboro, where the Rutherford County Honor Guard commemorated him by performing military rites at his funeral June 14.

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    Ryley Ober is the Public Safety Reporter for Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA Today Network. Email her at and follow her on Twitter @ryleyober

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