Air Bag, Drunk Driver Allegedly Killed Edgecombe County Girl
Posted March 29, 1999
TARBORO — Police say an Edgecombe County girl died in a car accident involving a drunk driver Monday night.
Officers say Kenyotta Whitehead was in the front seat of the car, and was not wearing a seat belt. They say the force of the wreck and the force of the air bag was too much for her 6-year-old frame, and it broke her neck.
Angela Pittman continues to struggle with the sudden loss of her oldest daughter.
"We got to the hospital and they still wouldn't let me see her," she said. "Then about 30 minutes to an hour later, they came back and said they were sorry, and that she had passed away."
Police say that while the air bag killed Whitehead, it was 40-year-old Gregory Warren, a friend of the family, who caused the accident.
He was driving the young girl and her 4-year-old sister to a relatives' house when he allegedly ran a stop sign and plowed into another car. Police say he was drunk, and that if Whitehead had been secured or in the backseat, that she would probably be alive.
"The passenger air bag where the 6-year-old was located caught the little girl in the face and maybe upper chest area causing her to be pushed back into the seat," says Sgt. Al Braxton with the Tarboro Police Department.
Police say the lesson is clear, if young children are too short for air bags to work, they need to sit in the back seat.
Pittman says that the little girl often took off her seat belt, and even though Warren is charged with drunk driving and death by motor vehicle, she does not hold him responsible.
"I don't blame him for it because when she was with me, she would do the same thing and I would have to fuss with her about wearing the seat belt," she said. "So I don't hold him responsible for it."
The Highway Patrol says that while it is legal for children ages five to 12 to ride in the front seat, they do not recommend it.
Warren is being held in the Edgecombe County jail on $30,000 bond.