Local News

2 Die in Durham Wreck

Posted February 14, 1999

— A 91-year-old woman, a leader in the city's churches and schools, and a teen-age boy died in a collision near the Durham Bulls Athletic Park Sunday afternoon. Police said the teen apparently ran a red light.

Johnnie Blunt McLester of Morehead Avenue was riding in a van with other people from her church. They were headed to a missionary meeting.

Kenny Christensen, 18, of Endor Lane, had just left work.

Christensen's Dodge was going north on Blackwell Street when it hit the Toyota 4runner going east on Morehead Avenue.

McLester and Christensen died instantly.

Injured were James Alston, 50, a church deacon who was driving, and 68-year-old Luna Brown, a church deaconess. Brown's condition was unavailable from a local hospital. Alston's injuries were minor.

The impact threw the Toyota into a telephone pole, snapping it in half and bringing down powerlines and the traffic light. Both vehicles wound up halfway up an embankment near an overpass for the Durham Freeway.

McLester was well-known in Durham. In 1946, her late husband, the Rev. Charles E. McLester, founded Morehead Avenue Baptist Church in Durham's West End neighborhood. She had remained active in her church, focusing on missions and youth ministry. She also taught and was a counselor at Hillside High School, Whitted Junior High School and Shepard Middle School until she retired in 1973.

In 1971, she received the Citizen-Teacher Award from the Kiwanis Club of Durham as the city teacher who best exemplified ideals of teaching and citizenship.


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