By Dave Russell


A motorcyclist struck a vehicle on U.S. 441 near Cherokee last Monday, sending one man to Mission Hospital in Asheville with non-life threatening injuries.

A call came into the 911 dispatch about a wreck in front of the Catamount Travel Center at 3:02 p.m., according to N.C. Highway Patrol Sgt. Scott Smith. 

Melba Kline Haigler, 87, of Cherokee, was traveling north on U.S. 441 when she turned her 2016 Ford passenger vehicle left toward the parking lot of the gas station.

Anthony Caleb Nicholson, 33, of Sylva, was traveling south at about 60 mph on a 2003 Suzuki motorcycle when he collided with Haigler’s car, Smith said.

Haigler suffered minor injuries, Smith said.

Nicholson’s injuries were more serious but not life-threatening, he said.

“Both of them were taken to the hospital by Cherokee Tribal EMS,” Smith said. “Mr. Nicholson was taken to Mission in Asheville and Haigler to Cherokee Indian Hospital.”

The responding N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper, Brook Sanders, estimated Haigler’s speed at 15 mph and Nicholson’s at 60 mph.

Sanders measured tire impressions, which could indicate braking, of about 12 feet before the impact site. Weather was not a factor. 

Haigler was charged with unsafe movement.