Friends flock to site of fatal Harnett crash
Posted November 11, 2013
Updated November 12, 2013
Lillington, N.C. — Monday was a day off from school at Harnett Central High School, but some students and graduates received a hard lesson about life.
The teens and young adults spent much of the day at the site of a Sunday morning crash that killed three people and injured two others. They left flowers and stuffed animals in a memorial next to a tree with blackened branches that has bark stripped off part of the trunk.
"It's helping a little bit to get it all out and see it," Katie Bradley said. "It touches me. It makes me feel a little closer to Austin, like he's still right here."
Austin Stewart Ferrell, 20, of Buies Creek, was one of the people killed in the crash. Driver Shane Mitchell Garner, 23, of Coats, and passenger Casey Dell Edens, 16, of Lillington, also died.
State Highway Patrol troopers say Garner's pickup careened off Neills Creek Road near Lillington at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday and slammed into a tree in front of an abandoned home. A fireball then engulfed the truck and the tree.
Authorities said they believe the truck sped through a license check point on U.S. Highway 421 near Campbell University earlier and that alcohol was a factor in the crash.
Garner and Ferrell were graduates of Harnett Central High, and Edens and two other passengers – Autumn Ashlyn Zimmer and Marina Troyano, both 17 and from Fuquay-Varina – were juniors at the school.
"We're all devastated. It's just a huge shock. This isn't supposed to happen, nothing like this," said Andrew Hawley, a friend of the victims.
"It's just, like, why? Why does this have to happen? When she was so sweet, like, why her?" said Olivia Wilder, who worked with Edens at a restaurant. "(I remember) her laugh and just her smiling. She was just, like, literally, one of the funniest people I know."
Zimmer was listed in serious condition Monday at WakeMed, while Troyano was in fair condition.