Local News

Speed, Alcohol Factors In Fatal Wake Crash

Posted July 1, 2003

— One person is dead and two others were injured after a pickup truck crashed into a tree on Dillard Drive early Monday.

The state Highway Patrol said speed and alcohol were factors in the crash that happened around 3:20 a.m.

Troopers said Simon Santiago, 24, of Wilkesboro, was behind the wheel of the pickup. Santiago and a passenger are being treated at WakeMed. A man riding in the back of the pickup died at the scene.

The vehicle was first involved in a hit-and-run at Dillard Drive and Jones Franklin Road, then traveled down Dillard Drive before hitting what is known as the curve and slamming into a tree, according to troopers.

Officials believe Santiago had been drinking and was trying to escape the prior crash.

"The vehicle took off and headed this way and was definitely driving too fast to make the curve," said 1st Sgt. James Williams of the N.C. Highway Patrol.

Neighbors said the stretch of road off Tryon Road is well-known for accidents and have called for guardrails in the past. Property owners Melanie and Drew Edwards said the latest crash is the fifth time in six years a vehicle has crashed into their front yard.

"Unfortunately, I couldn't help anybody because they were all trapped inside the vehicle," said Melanie Edwards.

The couple, both EMTs, escaped harm each time, but remain concerned about their safety -- especially with the recent birth of quadruplets.

"We're just concerned that they are going to hit the house eventually -- with the curve, the speed and people being intoxicated. This time somebody died. It's just a shame," Drew Edwards said.

The DOT is looking into repeated requests for a guardrail along the road, but engineer John Nance said a guardrail may not be the best option.

Nance said the DOT is looking into building a berm.

"Basically create a little more banking like you see on a banked curve on a race track or something like that, but with earth material," he said.

Nance said the DOT will start a survey soon and could complete the work in about three months.

Santiago was charged with careless and reckless driving and impaired driving. The district attorney will decide what charges Santiago will face in the death of his passenger.

Officials said no one was injured in the hit-and-run.

Valonda Calloway


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