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Mower driver charged after motorcyclist killed in Johnston crash

Posted April 24, 2015

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— A state contractor has been charged after a motorcyclist was killed Friday morning in a wreck on eastbound N.C. Highway 42 in Johnston County.

According to State Highway Patrol investigators, Anthony Suggs Jr., 31, of Clayton, was driving his motorcycle along N.C. 42 near Thanksgiving Fire Department Road at about 7:45 a.m. when he approached a tractor that was mowing grass on the shoulder. The driver of the tractor, William Pittman, pulled into Suggs' path, troopers said.

Suggs, a father of four, hit the back of the tractor and was thrown from the motorcycle. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Speed wasn't a factor in the crash, and Suggs was wearing a helmet, said Lt. Jeff Gordon, a spokesman for the Highway Patrol.

Pittman, 31, of Benson, has been charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle and unsafe movement.

Pittman works for ELC Group in Dunn, a mowing subcontractor for the state Department of Transportation. Company officials declined to comment Friday.

Suggs, who went by "T.J.," was a rising young aerospace engineer at UTC Aerospace Systems in Wilson. He graduated from Cornell in 2005. UTC spokesman Dan Coulom called the crash a "terrible tragedy."

DOT spokesman Mike Charbonneau said the agency checks safety records of its contractors.

"For a contractor to be pre-qualified for NCDOT to work with them and to continue to work with them, safety is something that we check and something that we monitor," Charbonneau said.

The highway was closed for more than two hours after the wreck, and Charbonneau said DOT will conduct a thorough investigation.

"We'll be talking with investigators, talking with the contractor involved here, looking at our own safety procedures," he said. "It's a terrible thing. We never want this to happen, but when it does, we want to look at everything and make sure we're all taking steps to prevent something like this from happening again."

Gordon said collisions involving mowing tractors are rare and that the stretch of highway where Friday's crash occurred isn't considered dangerous.

7 Comments

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  • Quid Malmborg Apr 26, 2015
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    You were responding to Tim Dean, right? He was the one suggesting that the victim riding the motorcycle was a mistake, not I. I'm well aware how little regard many drivers have for motorcyclists. Perhaps you hit the "quote" button on my comment by mistake. In that case no offense taken. Happy cycling.

  • Mike C Apr 26, 2015
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    [quote=14606168]Post by Quid Malmborg[/
    obviously, you have never had the fun of riding a motorcycle. I rode for over 25 years, and I can't tell you how many times careless car/truck and even tractor drivers pulled out in front of me while I HD the right of way.
    I suggest you engage your brain before engaging your mouth, or in this case your fingers.

  • Quid Malmborg Apr 26, 2015
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    Sounds like you're blaming the victim for choosing to ride a motorcycle, implying that he might have survived had he been driving a car. That's not always true.

    As for "My following opinion may not be true, [b]ut it is factual." Well, which is it- untrue or factual? The two are mutually exclusive so you can't have it both ways. It's obvious that your way of thinking is confused at best, so you probably should've refrained from commenting. HTH.

  • Tim Dean Apr 25, 2015
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    Yep ! Mower driver did me and two other cars the same way Thursday morning. Mower was completely off the road then pull fully into our lane about the time we got to him, thankfully there were no cars coming in our direction so we could swerve into opposite lane.

  • Brian Carle Apr 25, 2015
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    I am sorry for this loss of a young man making his way through life
    , My following opinion may not be true, ut it is factual. It is your right to ride a motorcycle, along with that choice is the increased inherent danger A motorcycle rider stands little chance in a collision with any other vehicle or object on the road. Ive ridden, Fun, freeing, exhilarating, - Yes, deadly as well - your choice

  • Deborah Grimes Apr 24, 2015
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    He was a very nice guy. He will be missed. I worked with him. My thoughts and prayers for his family.

  • Jeff Abbott Apr 24, 2015
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    Now that's something you don't see every day.