Local News

Families, Friends Grieve for Six Killed in Chatham Wreck

Posted June 23, 1998

— Those who knew the six young people killed in Tuesday's two-vehicle accident in Chatham County are stunned in the aftermath. Those who died ranged in age from 8 to 22.

State Troopers say they still aren't sure what caused a Buick Century carrying seven people to cross the center line on Highway 902 and crash head-on into a pickup truck. One passenger in the car and the driver of the truck survived the wreck.

Investigators hope interviews with survivors will shed light on what caused the collision Tuesday, which was the deadliest crash in the state in a year.

Those killed are identified as 22-year-old Jason Terry of Siler City, 18-year-olds Travis Valentine of Siler City and Thelma Ruth Violet Long of Robbins, Debbie Morgan of Carthage and Pug Edward Seekings of Siler City, both 17, and 8-year-old Shemone Alston of Goldston.

The survivors are 36-year-old Angela Cline, who was a passenger in the Buick and the truck driver, William Tally.

Students were grieving at Jordan Matthews High School in Siler City. The driver of the car, Travis Valentine, attended Matthews for a time and had recently dropped out. Had he not done so, he would have graduated this year. He was there long enough to make some friends.

Matthews Principal William Hamilton says it's a tragedy when so many young people die. He said students were affected by the news of the accident.

"They make an impact and, hopefully, he made an impact on them," Hamilton told WRAL-TV5'sMark Roberts. "Any time your paths cross with others, it hurts when you lose one. [Valentine] was a likable young man. For whatever reason, school was just not his thing."

The North Carolina Highway Patrol says Valentine had been cited on May 29 for driving 84 mph in a 45 mph zone. He was due in court July 2 to face that charge.

Troopers, rescue workers and eyewitnesses said Tuesday's accident was the worst they'd ever seen.

William Tally has been released from the Sanford hospital where he was taken for treatment after the wreck. Cline's condition was upgraded from critical to serious Wednesday afternoon.

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