Local News

Leesville Seniors Graduate, Mourn; Funeral Plans Announced

Posted June 1, 2001

— Friday was Graduation Day for Leesville High School, but the real world came early for graduates when senior Bryan Reaves was killed, along with three other students, in an accident on Interstate 540 Wednesday night.

Instead of celebrating the accomplishment, the graduates are mourning their loss. (Funeral information can be found here)

Reaves planned to go to ECU in the fall, but that was not to be.

"When it happens to other schools, you never think it will happen to yours," says one student at the event. "But when it does it's like hard to realize that people our age can be in that kind of danger."

Friends who were driving alongside Reaves' car that night are questioning why Raleigh police are even looking into the possibility that high speed and maybe even racing led to the crash.

The teenagers in the second car were some of the first people to see the wreck Friday night, among them Ahmed Allen.

"It is the worst thing I ever seen in my life," Allen says.

Allen does not accept all the evidence in the Raleigh police accident report, which says that Brian Reaves was going 105 miles per hour when he lost control of his vehicle, crossed the median, and hit a van on the other side of the highway. His speed at the time of impact was 70 mph.

Allen says his friend was going much slower.

"We missed the Leesville Exit on I-540, so we slowed down so he could pass us. He gradually passed us doing about 70, 75, and then we heard this pop, and we saw the car, we saw him skid into us, we thought he was just goofing around," says Allen. "I watched him die that night. It was really hard for me."

The tools used by police after an accident include tire marks, distance traveled after impact, and damage to vehicles. In Wednesday's fatal wreck, Raleigh police had a lot of tire marks available to them.

Sgt. David Snodgrass has reconstructed accidents for the highway patrol for more than a decade. He says measuring tire marks is the first method he uses to determine speed.

"It's a very common thing and a very accepted principle for determining speed," Snodgrass says. "It's probably the most commonly used method of evidence."

He has seen few cases when speed estimates have been way off-base.

"The speed estimates are usually fairly consistent. That's what court cases are all about," Snodgrass says. "Sometimes there (is) a divergence of opinion there, but most of the time they are fairly consistent."

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