Local News

Two Killed In Franklin County Wrecks

Posted January 12, 2004

— Two people are dead after separate wrecks on roads in Franklin County Sunday.

The Highway Patrol said a car ran the stop sign at the intersection of Highway 39 and Old U.S. 64 and was hit by a truck.

Investigators said Odell Bryant, the driver of the car, died on impact when a truck slammed into her. Troopers said the 66-year-old woman was driving through the intersection on Old U.S. 64 when Catherine Vaughan-Stokes ran the stop sign on Highway 39.

"I was sitting, eating breakfast and I heard it. I didn't have my contacts in, but I saw there was smoke in the car, and then I realized it was on fire," witness Tammy Ballance said.

Ballance said the severity of this crash sets it apart from all the others.

"For the last year, it seems like once a month, maybe twice a month there's been a terrible accident," she said. "A lot of people going on Highway 39 don't realize it's a stop sign, so by the time they get here they're going 60 or 70 and they don't slow down until something like this happens."

The intersection has already been flagged as a problem spot by both neighbors and the state.

The state Department of Transportation and the Highway Patrol have found that the intersection has an above-normal number of high-speed crashes. That is why the DOT is scheduled to install stop signs on Old U.S. 64 this week, making it a four-way stop.

"It's getting ready to be installed and I wish it had been installed last week. Maybe we wouldn't be here today," said Sgt. Eric Jackson of the state Highway Patrol.

Five people were injured the wreck. The driver of the pickup, Vaughan-Stokes, is charged with running a stop sign and misdemeanor death by vehicle.

The second wreck happened on U.S. 1 just before 4 p.m. Sunday.

Authorities said Michael Mihalik, 25, of Franklinton, was speeding down the highway just south of Franklinton when he lost control of his car and crossed the center line directly into the path of a tractor-trailer.

Mihalik died at the scene. The truck driver is being treated at a hospital.

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