One Dead After Monday Morning Accident
Posted September 5, 1999
CLAYTON — One person is dead and another is in the hospital after a Monday morning accident in which a white Pontiac Grand Prix hit a bridge abutment, and then flipped into rain-swollen White Oak Creek at the Winston Road bridge.
The accident occurred about 10:40 a.m. Monday. State troopers say Neal Ragan was driving too fast. The driver's wife, Sarah Ragan, died on impact. Neal Ragan was taken to Wake Medical Center.
From eyewitness reports and the state of the car when it was removed from the creek, investigators believe the accident was caused by a combination of excessive speed on a rain-slick roadway and bald tires.
Only the trunk lid of the Pontiac Grand Prix was sticking out of the water.
Rescuers desperately tried to free the woman inside, but they could not do much. White Oak Creek, swollen by rains from Tropical Storm Dennis, forced everyone to wait for the tow truck.
"It was not something you want to see, trust me," said Robyn Thomas, who got to the accident site long before the tow truck. She saw the whole thing happen.
"I was coming down the hill and when I looked up I saw the white car," Thomas said. "It was flipping front bumper over rear bumper. And I couldn't believe I was witnessing that accident. When I got down there, they were already in the creek. There was nothing we really could do."
Larry Garner lives on Winston Road, near the White Oak Creek Bridge.
The car in this fatality struck a wreath of flowers placed there just three weeks ago after another fatal wreck. Garner said he has seen six fatal wrecks on this bridge in the 20 years that he has lived in the area.
"The people driving this road need to respect the road," Garner said. "They need to respect their own driving ability. They need to respect the speed limit."