February 11th, 2009
09:33 AM ET

Crash survivor found dead

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/11/art.vert.nicole.peck.jpg caption="A photograph of Nicole Peck from the City of Atascadero press release." width=292 height=320]

Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

Nicole Peck was behind the wheel on the night of January 15th. A man named Adam Mayfield was her passenger. No one else was inside the Dodge Neon when it veered off the road and crashed into a bridge that Thursday morning.

Peck and Mayfield survived the single-car accident. Police say they were not injured. They are convinced both walked away. But only Mayfield returned home. What happened to Nicole Peck?

Here's what we know: According to the Atascadero Police Department, Peck wasn't reported missing until January 22, a full seven days after she vanished. Working on leads, search and rescue teams fanned out near the bridge looking for the 29-year-old woman. On February 8 at 10:50 a.m., they made the grisly discovery. Peck's body was found in a shallow pool of water, just a few hundred yards from the scene of the collision.

Investigators say there were no tell-tale signs of trauma. So how did she die? Detectives are awaiting Wednesday's autopsy results to determine if Peck was the victim of foul play or not. Although authorities don't have a suspect, they do have a person of interest, Adam Mayfield. He was arrested on unrelated charges of possessing a dangerous weapon and violating parole. He is currently in jail.

Police are convinced Mayfield was the last person to see Peck before she disappeared. They are also certain he left the car with her on the night of January 15. Detectives say they have many more people to interview in the investigation.

Was Nicole Peck the victim of a homicide? Was it an accident? Or did she die from natural causes? The autopsy could shed light on this deadly mystery.

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Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. Wicapiwakan

    You all have some interesting points to make. Indeed, we do not know all of the facts. But clearly, everyone has an opinion. While speculation does not help, neither does negativity.

    To clear things up a bit: No, the police never saw them leave the car. Reading comprehension is essential on this point. The story only says that the police "are convinced both walked away." There may be several reasons why they might believe this but the story is intentionally vague.

    Several people made a sensible conclusion that one ore both people in the vehicle were injured. This seems likely and reasonable.

    So why would he flee? Well, the most obvious reason for a parolee to run is the fact the he either knows or believes this situation could be a parole violation. So the question becomes, if a parole violation occurred, what was that violation? As someone had pointed out, drugs or perhaps alcohol were involved in this crash. People run from accidents all the time, regardless of who they are with or who they could have injured.

    Certainly, the way this story plays out does not make sense. It does not make sense to the average person because we don't tend to do these types of things. Yes, we probably would help someone we were in an accident with, but that's because we probably wouldn't have something to fear.

    Ultimately, I have to agree with those who said that we should wait and see what happens with the investigation. An autopsy will be able to determine whether or not there is water in her lungs. It should also reveal those internal injuries that many of you suggested, if those injuries are indeed there.

    February 12, 2009 at 1:22 am |
  2. Jim Foster

    With no signs of trauma it could be that they were struggling in the car, causing the accident. She then tried to run away and he chased her down and killed her. Whatever happened I hope justice is served for her family's sake.

    February 12, 2009 at 12:00 am |
  3. Antonio Guimaraes

    So much speculation! Slo news day or not, there are dozens of comments here.

    1. He was quickly arrested on an unrelated case, and

    2. The autopsy will reveal cause of death.

    3. CNN is reporting on a white criminal, anyone think how unusual?

    February 11, 2009 at 9:55 pm |
  4. Christina

    Charles B. I agree. I bet everyone who disagrees or is upset with your comment is white!

    February 11, 2009 at 7:59 pm |
  5. michael g

    i bet he was drunk driving and wrecked and both were knocked unconscious. he woke up before she did, saw she was unresponsive, feared he killed her and fled because he was scared of getting locked up. she awoke sometime later with severe internal injuries and stumbled off to her death.

    February 11, 2009 at 7:29 pm |
  6. M.Stumbo

    I live in the same town where this woman lived. In the local police reports it states a dump truck driver saw both Peck and Mayfield walking together shortly after the crash and they declined assistance from the tow truck driver. So Mr. Mayfield was with the victim after the crash. Why he didn't report the accident or inform police for over a week that she is missing seams highly suspicious.

    February 11, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  7. Chris

    Mr. Boyer, comments like yours are exactly why racism is a problem in this country.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:44 pm |
  8. Michelle

    Why didn't he repport her missing? Wouldn't you think that if two people were in an accident together they would be checking on one another in the days following? I'm not saying he killed her but it's kind of suspicious that he never even tried to see how she was doing in the week following the accident. Even if he is not guilty of murder he is morally guilty. How can you just leave someone out in the woods dead or to die. It doesn't matter if they were friends or if she just picked him up on the side of the road and gave him a ride. He should have called for help.

    February 11, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  9. Frances

    I really wish that people would stop rushing to judge people before they have the facts.

    While mention is made of his parole violation and that he was in possession of a "dangerous weapon," why do they not mention whether or not she also has a criminal background?

    YOUR JUDGEMENTS ARE BASED ON STATEMENTS BEING REPORTED IN THE NEWS. We all know that there are many misleading statements made in stories, mistakes printed and I have even seen several reporters reporting on the same story (Caylee Anthony's being a good example of this) and listing different "facts" of the case. I have seen numerous stories where entire sections have been retracted because the reporter got the "facts" wrong.

    February 11, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  10. gina1

    Very strange. All of the posted theories are really good , especially EMS provider. But, why not use a cell phone and all for help? If her companion is so innocent, he sure dosen't seem like a stand up kind of guy. He seems like to "date form hell".Who abandons someone who may or may not be hurt and just go your own way?Something fishy in that pond!

    February 11, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  11. Man-in-the-mirror

    When you don't know who to blame, "the butler did it".

    To be politically correct for Charles B.... Alfred....... not Benson!

    February 11, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  12. Paula

    If there was no trauma to the body, was there any marks to her neck indicating that she was strangled? If she couldn't breathe and was struggling to breathe then her eyes are an indication of that. I think that she probally had suffered internal bleeding that caused her death. If there was faul play there would have been signs of it.

    February 11, 2009 at 3:50 pm |
  13. megan

    They should do a tox screen on her. Quite possible they were on drugs and she overdosed while driving, which cause the accident. Maybe he ditched the body so he wouldn't be charged for aiding in her death. I'm sure they're already looking at this...

    February 11, 2009 at 2:42 pm |
  14. Roger Anderson

    To Charles Boyer............That is the stupidest thing that I have ever seen written.

    February 11, 2009 at 2:20 pm |
  15. Sylvia

    She may have just died out of internal body injury and she may have not said anything to anybody about that. Plus maybe it was her time to go and when she got in to the accident it quite wasnt her time to go. Death may have came back for her.Creeepy. But it happens....

    February 11, 2009 at 2:15 pm |
  16. Adam Mayfield

    I didn't do it, I swear. O J was in the backseat.

    February 11, 2009 at 2:12 pm |
  17. Kristen

    Seems weird that they both walked. It could be because of some internal trauma that might have slowly killed her...you would think Adam would have walked away with her and he might have reported it. Depending on the exact circumstances he'd be my number one suspect too.

    February 11, 2009 at 1:49 pm |
  18. Tony

    Charles Boyer. What is racism?

    February 11, 2009 at 1:38 pm |
  19. David from LA

    Slow news day? While I'm sure that this incident is a tragedy for the family, this is irrelevant to anyone outside that circle and simply more sensationalism to pump up viewership/readership. These stories simply make everyone feel less safe and more anxious.

    February 11, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  20. Ted Kennedy

    i can relate to his pain.

    February 11, 2009 at 12:57 pm |
  21. Donna Mersing

    Law enforcement should certainly examine this young woman's death meticulously. The officers are convinced they both walked away from the scene of the accident. Did they come to this conclusion from the actual accident scene, witnesses, investigative technique, or from Adam Mayfield? Who saw this young woman walk away, and if she did why has her body been found? This definitely requires indepth scrutiny, and tenacity. The truth can be found by diligent detective work. Good luck to law enforcement, and my sincere sympathies to her family and loved ones.

    February 11, 2009 at 12:45 pm |
  22. jody

    I think she was already dead when he wrecked the car on purpose.

    February 11, 2009 at 12:42 pm |
  23. Boston

    "who walked away unharmed"

    February 11, 2009 at 12:38 pm |
  24. Boston

    Kayteee-When someone says" they are convicned that they walked away from the scene" be more believable if it was stated differently?
    "I saw them walk away with from the scene" is more believable to me. Since it's not reported that way and there is some ambiguity there, why do you think Denver's assessments are unfounded.?We don't have all the facts yet.

    All we really know is that there was a crash scene and it hasn;t been designated a crime scene because no one knows who walked unharmed. We only know that someone is dead.

    February 11, 2009 at 12:37 pm |
  25. Monica

    Denver: The police did not "see" them walk away from the scene. They are only "convinced both walked away". You should read the "details" before jumping on someone else for not doing so.

    I agree with the EMS provider... he/she never said that he has seen people collapse... just that it has happened.

    Although the details of this story sound suspicious, it doesn't mean that a crime was committed. Everyone is innocent until "proven" guilty.

    February 11, 2009 at 12:37 pm |
  26. DB

    My cousin drowned in one inch of water in a country stream after being thrown clear of his vehicle.It happened in a rural area , and he was found by DOT workers after they noticed disturbed greenery at the roadside.We were able to have an open casket ceremony to celebrate his life, He had no visible injuries at all. Strange things do happen, but I would investigate her companion thoroughly.

    February 11, 2009 at 12:25 pm |
  27. Dave

    I think she must have had some kind of closed-head injury that didn't manifest until - dazed and confused - she wandered off into that pond, passed out and drowned or succumbed to her injuries.

    February 11, 2009 at 12:17 pm |
  28. Karen

    I can understand if he has a criminal history, that he would freak out and leave the scene of the accident. (Especially if they had been out partying and he had stuff on him) What I want to know is what was the relationship between them? Were they arguing (or messed up) that she wrecked the car and then the situation went downhill from there?
    If she was found a few hundred yards away from the scene of the accident, then maybe while they were walking away from the wreck he lost control of his temper and killed her.

    IF he didn't do it, he has to know who.

    February 11, 2009 at 12:09 pm |
  29. JerichoJenny

    denver – nowhere in the article does it say "police saw them both walk away." It says police are "convinced both walked away."

    Why did she crash the car? Were they arguing before the crash? Did anyone see them leave the car?

    If I was in an accident with someone, I would have made sure they got home. Why didn't he?

    There is no answer to these questions in the article. We need to wait for the FACTS to come out.

    CharlesB – the last article I read was about Joella who was beaten to death by her father and stepmother. She was 11 years old, BLACK, and beautiful. And don't forget the Bradley girls disappearing after opening the door for George on CNN's cold case page. If you don't like the coverage, stop whining and do something about it.

    February 11, 2009 at 12:04 pm |
  30. KayTee


    No where does it say the police watched these two walk away. READ CAREFULLY! It says: "They are convinced both walked away."

    Before you go judging people for not knowing their facts, make sure yours are right too.

    February 11, 2009 at 11:55 am |
  31. Robin

    Love it when all the renegade defense attorneys post their 'guilty party is never guilty' theories on stories like this one. The same line of defense always follows: does not matter that he was standing over her with a bloody knife, your Honor, she could have slipped and fallen onto the knife that he was using as a mirror to check his hair... All of you pretending that she could have been fatally wounded in the crash are missing out on the most important detail: if she was injured, why didn't he call for help? If she 'accidentally' died, why didn't he call for help for 7 days? It is acceptable to use common sense in tandem with the law. Try it.

    February 11, 2009 at 11:46 am |
  32. Nour

    who is Adam Mayfield ?
    " He was arrested on unrelated charges of possessing a dangerous weapon and violating parole. He is currently in jail.".... so the guy is trouble to begin with. What was she doing with him at night alone? Not having a tea party..., This is another reason why you should never put yourself in dangerous positions.

    February 11, 2009 at 11:35 am |
  33. Christina

    I also question why some stories are constantly on the news & why you never hear of others. I believe in some cases it's because a reporter, family member or friend brought it to the attention of a bigger news source. I know I'm on the internet a lot looking at all the craziness in the world & try to pay attention to stories in my area. When I get a email forwarded to me about a missing kid, I check to see what area if it doesn't say & forward it because I would want the word out there if my kid was missing. I started verifying the stories because the last one was a hoax that the family's friend had sent out.

    February 11, 2009 at 11:34 am |
  34. Tom Windwillow

    How will you be able to forensically differentiate enough to convince a jury in small town on the central coast of California that the cause of death was the result of follow on trauma and not from the accident? The events surrounding the accident are not unusual in and of them selves. Persons with moderate to slow intercranial bleeds have beeen known to wander away from the scene of the trauma and die sometime later. A ruptured spleen could have caused death anytime up to 20 minutes to hours later. The outstanding and glaring miscue here is the delay in reporting her missing. I do not thing race has anything to do with the reporting by CNN.

    February 11, 2009 at 11:33 am |
  35. denver

    okay... first of all Charles Boyer – you really don't need to bring the race card into all of this! no matter her race, the mysterious aspect of this would definitely have brought it to CNN's attention regardless... don't make stupid judgments please. also... quick to judge? EMS provider – do you honestly think that they would part ways right away (as in within 100 yards?) and he wouldn't have noticed that she collapsed?! that doesn't make any sense.... besides, you saw those people collapse, right? it states in the story that the police saw them both walk away... uh, that would mean that she didn't leave him there in the car. right? yeah... you shouldn't be so quick to jump to conclusions if you don't read the details! regardless of if there is foul play or not... i do find it hard to believe that he didn't see anything... considering the police saw them both walk away! i'm not saying that she didn't die of injuries sustained in the accident, just that he seems rather suspicious... and to be arrested for parole violations and weapons possession? doesn't seem to be the cleanest of the clean, eh? besides... in the article it clearly states – "certain he left the car with her on the night of January 15" think about it! 🙂

    February 11, 2009 at 11:19 am |
  36. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Ms. Peck may have been seriously injuried (internally) and the cause and effect of her death were delayed--on the other hand-–Mr. Mayfield is going to have to answer some questions. The autopsy should revealed the cause of her death--now as to who or what contributed to the cause--law enforcement will determine that.

    February 11, 2009 at 11:11 am |
  37. Teresa, OH

    Why are police "convinced" both survived the accident? Did her airbag deploy? Did Adam report the accident that night? Who reported Nicole missing? Too many questions... too quick to jump the gun.
    No offense, but this is bad covering of a story, too few REAL details.

    It sounds like she might have had internal injuries. Survived the crash, wandered off for help, collapsed do to internal bleeding... ( remember Princess Di?).

    @ Charles Boyer: having said what you did in reference to the white and attractive, please go further and DETAIL why that is so in our society. And then when you detail it: explain why each RACE cares to the extent that they do. thanks.

    February 11, 2009 at 11:10 am |
  38. Kara, Atlanta

    CharlesB, please push that agenda elsewhere, seriously CNN did not begin the disparity in news coverage and ever so often they do cover crimes like these against people of color.

    Maybe Adam did something to Nicole, then attempted to cover his tracks by crashing the car.

    February 11, 2009 at 11:03 am |
  39. Sharon

    Don't rule a closed head injury. A victim may appear physically untouched, but have serious brain damage, similar to injuries suffered by out troops in the Iraq and Afghanistan.

    February 11, 2009 at 10:58 am |
  40. Boston

    Who said she walked away from the crash unhurt?

    February 11, 2009 at 10:57 am |
  41. Glenn

    It's like Tony Sopranno and Christopher Moltisanti!

    February 11, 2009 at 10:55 am |
  42. mike

    doesnt take a genious, he drowned her !!

    February 11, 2009 at 10:53 am |
  43. PS

    Wow, you people really are fascinated with some poor woman's death. Pretty sickening. And Willie, "savatoged" is not a word.

    February 11, 2009 at 10:51 am |
  44. EMS provider

    Don't be quick to judge.... I have had patients not want treatment, and then collapse a short time later with internal injuries. I have also found patients dead 50 ft from the car in a creek, where they impacted, opened the door and walked (stumbled into the creek), only to collapse a short distance away.

    consider this.... she wakes up, stumbles away from the car and into a creek and collapses. He wakes up short time later, makes it out of the car (doesn't know where she is) and possibly thinks she has abandoned him, or went to get help, etc.

    Without all the facts it is easy to say "he did it". Let it play out in court with the presentation of all the evidence before convicting the guy...

    February 11, 2009 at 10:46 am |
  45. Charles Boyer

    I strongly suspect if this woman was not young, white and attractive that CNN would not have been able to find the space to cover her apparently tragic story.

    February 11, 2009 at 10:42 am |
  46. Dennis

    wow i hope the passanger dident kill her and left her body just lie there

    February 11, 2009 at 10:37 am |
  47. willie

    wow!!! how did she go off the road?
    was she savatoged??????!?!??!?!?!?!?!!?!?!?

    February 11, 2009 at 10:34 am |
  48. Luis, Seattle

    Come on!! Is it normal for two people who are riding in a car, to have an accident, and all of the sudden go their separate ways? Is not normal. Usually you stick together, wait for the police, help, etc. She was found a few hundred yards from the scene of the accident. That means to me that if was not very long after the accident. So Mr. Mayfield definitely knows what happened, unless they were both drugged up.

    February 11, 2009 at 10:34 am |
  49. Whitney

    i bet he did it. or he left her unconscious or something and someone else came along and did it (doubtful). but 7 days later shes reported missing...kinda suspicious.

    February 11, 2009 at 10:24 am |
  50. Cindy

    HMM..interesting case!! Even with no signs of trauma Nichole could have had internal injuries that killed her but you'd think she would have made it away from the wreck and to a hospital for help.

    It seems strange though that she was found in a pool of water...like she was drowned or something. Guess we'll have to await the autopsy on this one. Keep us informed!


    February 11, 2009 at 9:54 am |
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