Local News

Victim's Relatives Say Sinkhole Warnings...

Posted September 23, 1996

— While the North Carolina Department of Transportation says it doesn't know what happened to signs warning of a washout on State Road 1128 in Sampson County, relatives of two people injured there say signage has never been adequate.

What started out as a simple drive home for Vanessa Chestnut and her friend Tawanda Sampson, ended in a nightmare inside Chestnut's vehicle after it fell into a deep crevass left in the road by rushing water during Hurricane Fran. Two hours later, another car, driven by Charlene Rogers, also toppled off the edge of the road. She was able to climb out and go for help.

Chestnut's brother Antonio says there simply wasn't enough warning about the dangerous conditions.

Six hours after the women were rescued, DOT workers were installing huge new signs on either side of the washout. DOT officials say they had placed cones and signs up after the road washed out, but they had apparently been knocked down afterward.

Firefighter Raymond Civilie was among the first at the scene after Sampson's call. He says there has never been adequate signage, and that in the dark, it would have been impossible to avoid the hole if you didn't know it was there.

Vanessa Chestnut and Sampson are listed in stable condition at Sampson Regional Medical Center.

Officials say both vehicles were traveling at about 55 mph.

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