Local News

N.C. State Mourns Loss of "A Creative Life"

Posted October 21, 1998

— A North Carolina State student was killed, and four other students were injured Thursday in a wreck on Interstate 40-85 near Greensboro that claimed three lives and caused massive traffic backups.

Samuel B. Hedstrom, 25, of Raleigh, was killed when a gray Ford Explorer, in which he was riding with five other N.C. State students, crashed while trying to avoid the pileup.

It was a somber day Friday at the N.C. State School of Design as they morned the death of their fellow student.

The Dean of the School of Design held a private meeting with his students Friday to discuss the tragedy, because the school is such as close-knit community.

"It reminds us about how important each day is in a creative community where there's a joy to the progress of creating things," Dean Marvin Malecha said. "There is an equal sense of emptiness when you have the destruction of such a creative life."

The Design school has just 700 students - the smallest of any school or college at State. Pamela Hooker could not believe how upset her professor was over Hedstrom's death. "She was extremely grieved. She almost couldn't keep talking."

A Kansas couple, Karl Gaston, 69, and his wife Dorothy, 70, of Ellsworth, were also killed.

The crash was triggered when the Gastons' 1996 Chevrolet Lumina changed lanes into the path of a tractor-trailer in the highway's eastbound lanes.

The truck collided with the car's rear, sending the Lumina across the interstate median into oncoming westbound traffic, setting off a chain reaction crash involving another tractor-trailer, a 1995 Mercedes Benz and the Explorer.

All four surviving college students and two people inside the Mercedes were treated at a local hospital, said Highway Patrol Sgt. James Williams. Two students remained hospitalized Thursday night. The driver of the Mercedes and her daughter were treated and released, officials said.

N.C. State Chancellor Marye Anne Fox went to the hospital to meet with Hedstrom's family.

The accident occurred near the Lee Street exit and backed up traffic for about 10 miles.

The Highway Patrol was awaiting autopsy results on Karl Gaston to determine whether a medical condition caused him to swerve into traffic. Authorities did not expect to file any charges in the accident.

Gaston is the former president of the Kansas Press Association and the longtime publisher of the Ellsworth Reporter, a weekly newspaper.

The students were traveling to an international furniture market in High Point, and some had interviews scheduled with furniture manufacturers, school officials said. From staff and wire reports.

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