Students, Faculty Mourn Loss Of Wakefield High Students
Posted March 6, 2006
Updated December 31, 2006
RALEIGH, N.C. — They were part of a group dubbed the "Wakefield Wackos," who cheered on their school's athletic teams.
Steven George, 18, was a star baseball player at Wakefield High School. Seventeen-year-old Anthony Bostic, or "A.B.," as friends called him, also played baseball for three years.
Baker Wood, 18, had a great sense of humor and planned to attend High Point University. And Tim Steinberg, 18, juggled a part-time job and school and also hoped to go to college.
They were on their way home from a boy's basketball game in Greenville Saturday night when, Raleigh police said, Wood lost control of the 2004 Mazda RX-8 he was driving on an exit ramp where the new U.S. Highway 64 bypass meets the Interstate 440 Beltline.
For students and teachers at Wakefield High School, Monday was a sad day. Beneath a flag at half-staff, dozens of students gathered in front of Wakefield High School to remember the seniors.
Twenty-six counselors were on hand at the school to help students cope with the tragedy.
"When you lose four (classmates) at one time, that's really, really hard," said Terry Snyder, lead psychologist for the Wake County Public School System. "They're a somber, sad group. The grieving process will take a while."
Investigators said the car, which was traveling more than 115 mph, left 120 feet of skid marks before hitting a concrete barrier on the right side of the ramp. It traveled 410 feet on the barrier, climbing higher, and eventually flew over it, sailing 224 feet away from the bridge and plunging 58 feet to the ground.
Police said Monday they are still investigating whether alcohol was a factor in the accident. According to driving records, Wood had three accidents in 2004, but he was never cited in any of those.
The accident has not only saddened classmates of the four victims, but it has parents of Wakefield students becoming more aware of the potential dangers of teenagers behind the wheel.
"We just never, never know how far our children want to take it," said parent Shelley Jackson. "Children want to take it to the limits, and they don't fear death."
Wakefield Principal Steven Takacs said the accident should send a strong message to parents: be diligent and monitor your children, and hold them very dear because you never know what's going to happen," he said.
Both police and state Department of Transportation investigators say there has never been a crash like Saturday's on the Highway 64 bypass.
"It really makes you just feel very sad that this kind of thing has happened, and you try to do all you can," said DOT division engineer Jon Nance.
Engineers said there is no way to make any roadway safe for vehicles traveling at speeds in excess of 100 mph. They said the concrete barrier over which the car flipped was designed to bounce vehicles going the posted speed limit right back on the road. If a vehicle is exceeding the posted speed limit, or if it hits the barrier head-on, it will flip.
Still, the DOT plans to investigate Saturday's accident over the next several weeks.
"We're going to check the signing, the pavement markings, you know, the rumble strips," Nance said. "Anything could be on the table, but want to look at what happened there, and we want to address what we need to."