Driver of car that struck Dixon High student waives first court appearance

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – The driver of a car that struck and killed a Dixon High School student waived his first court appearance Wednesday.

Staff Sgt. Joshua Block

 

Joshua Aaron Block, a 26-year-old Staff Sgt. at New River, has been charged with felony involuntary manslaughter and felony passing a stopped school bus.

He was being held in the Onslow County Jail on a $40,000 bond but has since bonded out.

The crash was called in around 6:40 a.m. It happened on Dawson Cabin Road near Stillwood Drive. Troopers arrived on scene about 8:15 a.m.

The initial investigation into the incident indicates that 16-year-old David Palacio was crossing the road to get on the school bus when he was hit by a 1990 Honda Civic operated by Block. Palacio was taken from the scene to Onslow Memorial and died there.

Troopers spent about two and a half hours working the scene.

“if you see the yellow lights come on start slowing down and planning to stop,” 1st. Sgt. David Oglesby with the NC Highway Patrol said. Go ahead and stop. You don’t have to wait for the stop arm to come out and let the school bus go past you with the yellow lights on instead of waiting for the red lights to slam on brakes.”

Palacio was an accomplished musician and played bass clarinet with the Dixon High School Marching Bulldogs, concert band and wind ensemble. He also ran track for Dixon High School.

Block is an active-duty avionics division chief at Marine Corps Air Station New River, according to a news release from the base. Block was deployed to Afghanistan from December 2009 to July 2010 and to Korea from January 2012 to May 2012.

In addition to tours served at MCAS Miramar (2009 – 2013) and MCAS New River from 2016 to the present, SSgt Block served as a drill instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island from 2013 to 2016.

For parents of children who ride the bus to and from school every day, an accident like this one is concerning.

“They’re more worried about their time and where they’ve got to be than the safety of others and unfortunately sometimes bad things happen whenever you only care about yourself,” Elizabeth Goodwin, mother of three children who ride the bus, said.

Goodwin says it’s not unusual to see cars passed her children’s stopped bus.

There were 15 students from Dixon High School on the bus at the time. Grief counselors were at the school Monday and Tuesday as needed.

Troopers downloaded information from Block’s car and cell phone at the time of the incident.

A vigil will be held for Palacio Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Freedom Fountain in downtown Jacksonville.

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