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By Erin Smith

Photos by Gordon Kinlaw

A piece of construction equipment that was being moved from the employee parking area to another parking area at Smithfield Foods in Tar Heel was struck in the rear on Thursday evening, according to the NC Highway Patrol.

The crash occurred at 5:58 p.m. on NC 87 when a piece of construction equipment called a boom lift was being operated by John Theodore Hoekstra of Minnesota southbound on NC 87 after leaving the employee parking area of Smithfield Foods, according to Trooper R. L. Walker.

Pedro Luis Perez of Bladenboro was driving a 2013 Kia sport utility vehicle southbound on NC 87 when he struck the boom lift, according to Trooper Walker.

Hoekstra was secured in the operator’s area of the boom lift by his safety harness. Trooper Walker said Hoekstra suffered a head injury and other injuries and was airlifted from the scene to New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington.

“The boom lift came out of the employee parking lot and was heading south (on NC 87) to go to a second entrance,” said Trooper Walker.

Perez is an employee of Smithfield Foods and was leaving work at the time of the crash, said Trooper Walker. Perez was cited with failing to reduce speed.