Local News

Three Die In Franklin County Wreck

Posted November 6, 2003

— Three people died in a two-car collision Wednesday in Franklin County, including a couple that had been married for more than 50 years.

The accident happened shortly before 10 a.m. on Highway 401 north of Highway 98, not far from the Wake/Franklin County line. The accident closed both lanes for more than two hours.

According to investigators, 76-year-old Raeford Conn and his wife, 70-year-old Mary Conn, were driving south on 401 to take him to chemotherapy in Raleigh. At the same time, 52-year-old Catherine Bass of Youngsville was heading north toward Louisburg. Bass's vehicle crossed the center line and drove head-on into the Conns' car.

Both women died at the scene. Raeford Conn died after being taken to the hospital.

At least one person called authorities from a cell phone after seeing Bass' car weaving before the collision.

The accident scene consisted of twisted metal and two cars crushed beyond recognition.

"This is the worst I've seen in a while," said Trooper T.W. Allen, of the Highway Patrol.

The cars were so crushed that it took more than an hour to retrieve the bodies.

"It sounded like a great impact," witness Glorene Strickland said. "I actually thought it was a truck; it was such a great impact."

Investigators said Bass suffered from diabetes and hypertension, which may have contributed to the collision.

The Conns celebrated their 52nd anniversary Saturday. They were active members of the White Level Baptist Church.

"He loved his wife, and loved his church," said Conn's sister, Maxine Wilkerson. "He was always willing to do what he could for the church.

The Conns' family members said they hold no malice toward Bass and their hearts go out to her family, as well.


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