NC trooper paralyzed from neck down after pursuit

The suspect did not stop after the trooper collided with another vehicle, but was later captured

By Kevin Ellis
Gaston Gazette, Gastonia, N.C.

GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — Doctors report Highway Patrol Trooper Christopher Wooten, a Cramerton resident and South Point High alumnus, suffered a complete spinal cord injury at the top of the spine, which is resulting in paralysis from the neck down, according to the commander of the N.C. State Highway Patrol.

"While we all have joined together in praying for a speedy recovery, I deliver this message with a very heavy heart," Col. Glenn McNeill Jr. wrote on the Highway Patrol's Facebook page.

Trooper Christopher L. Wooten.
Trooper Christopher L. Wooten. (Photo/NC Highway Patrol)

"Doctors have been monitoring Chris' recovery around the clock while providing the best medical care and attention for his condition. Unfortunately, after the performance of several medical procedures, which included surgery to fuse and decompress his C1-C5 vertebrae and stabilize the spinal column, it was determined that Chris suffered significant spinal cord trauma during the crash. At the moment, the surgeons are classifying the injury as a complete spinal cord injury at the top of the spine, which is resulting in paralysis from the neck down."

McNeill passed on this message from Wooten's family:
"Chris' beloved wife, Sharon, and the entire Wooten family have requested I express their heartfelt appreciation for the overwhelming amount of support offered by our Patrol members both sworn and civilian. Personally, I am so proud to see how so many have put themselves aside while aiding Chris and his family in such time of enormous need."

Wooten was injured in a violent collision while on duty in Mecklenburg County July 22 while attempting to stop a vehicle that reportedly was fleeing to elude arrest. The suspect did not stop after Wooten collided with another vehicle, but was captured Wednesday.

Gaston County Commissioner Ronnie Worley and Wooten have been friends since attending South Point High together. Worley, who retired from the Highway Patrol in 2016, has been by the side of Wooten and his family at the hospital since the wreck.

Worley described his friend as a "great guy."

"His friends are committed to support him, his wife, Sharon, and daughters with anything they should need during his recovery," Worley said Friday. "I know he has the best possible medical care and I will remain prayerful for his complete recovery."

To assist the Wooten family, an account under Christopher and Sharon Wooten Special Account has been established at the N.C. State Employees Credit Union. Those wishing to make a donation can do so by visiting any NCSECU branch, McNeill said.

"My prayer is that God continues to provide comfort to Chris, the Wooten family and to every member of this amazing organization. We must continue to stand together to overcome the adversity we all share due to Chris' absence. May God continue to bless Chris, Sharon, their daughters, Kylee and Madison, and the entire Patrol family during this difficult time," McNeill wrote.

Wooten will begin rehabilitation in the coming weeks in preparation to return home, McNeill wrote, but it won't be an easy journey.

"Ultimately, Chris and his family have a long road of recovery ahead and they are incredibly grateful for the outpouring of love and support," he wrote.

Wooten was injured Monday while attempting to stop 36-year-old Dontay Maurice Kilgo, 36, of Charlotte.

Kilgo allegedly failed to stop when Wooten tried to pull him over, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police. As Wooten pursued Kilgo, a pickup truck collided with Wooten's motorcycle at about 9:30 a.m. at the intersection of Tuckaseegee Road and Edgewood Road. Kilgo did not remain at the scene.

Kilgo faces charges including felony assault of a law enforcement officer causing serious injury, felony flee to elude, and traffic offenses including reckless driving with wanton disregard, failing to heed light or siren, driving with a revoked license, and misdemeanor possession of marijuana up to one-half ounce.

He is in custody of the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office.

©2019 Gaston Gazette, Gastonia, N.C.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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