A man who caused a fatal wreck that killed five people will spend at least 20 years in prison, the Mecklenburg County district attorney’s office announced today.

Dakeia Charles, 26, pled guilty to multiple charges related to the crash, which happened July 3, 2020, on the Interstate 485 outer loop, near W.T. Harris Boulevard.

According to prosecutors, a witness told the authorities that Charles was driving more than 100 miles per hour and weaving in and out of traffic when he sideswiped a box truck, setting off a chain reaction that involved an SUV and a third vehicle.

Killed in the SUV were Matthew Obester, 34; his wife, Andrea, 39; and their two daughters, Violet, 9, and Elizabeth, 12.

A fifth person, Mark Barlaan, 58, was riding in the back seat of the third vehicle and was fatally injured.

Charles pled 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.

Four hours after the crash, Charles had a blood-alcohol level of 0.07, according to the district attorney’s office. A blood-alcohol level higher than 0.08 is illegal for drivers in North Carolina.

Charles had a previous DWI conviction in another county and was ordered to abide by a restriction on driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.04 or higher.

Kylie, a 4th-generation Durhamite, is passionate about social justice. In her free time, she enjoys reading, painting, playing video games and being in nature. She covers the Historic West End and Charlotte...

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