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Teen Coming From Birthday Party Killed in Wreck

Posted March 2, 2008
Updated March 3, 2008

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— A 15-year-old girl died in a single-car accident while traveling from a birthday party in Johnston County Saturday night, the state Highway Patrol said.

Dennis Olden McLamb, 17, of Four Oaks, was driving girlfriend Taylor Renee Penny, 15, of Lillington, back from a friend's 18th birthday party around 8:20 p.m., 1st Sgt. Glen Stokes said.

McLamb took a curve on Creek Bridge Road, halfway between Four Oaks and Newton Grove. The 1997 Ford pickup truck dropped onto the road's right shoulder, and McLamb over-corrected, Stokes said. The vehicle flipped twice.

Troopers transported Penny to Johnston Memorial Hospital, where she died.

Penny was a sophomore at Harnett Central High School. She was on the swim team and wanted to be a dentist.

"She made a lot of friends and she made and impact on a lot of lives. I know there'll be a gap in my life and a lot of young people, as well as older," Taylor's grandfather Johnny Douglas said.

McLamb suffered minor injuries.

Troopers estimated that McLamb was traveling at 65 mph when the accident happened. The speed limit was 55 mph.

Stokes said the driver's inexperience was the biggest factor in the accident, more so than speeding. Alcohol was not a factor, nor was it served at the birthday party, Stokes said.

"It's just a freak accident, one of those things that can never be explained,” Douglas said.

Neither teenager was wearing a seat-belt. Charges are pending against McLamb, troopers said.

Grief counselors will be available Monday for students at Harnett Central High School, officials said.


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  • Dr. Dataclerk Mar 3, 2008

    The time is not important here. You are not the police or an investigator. :)

  • TinaD Mar 3, 2008

    So sad. Thoughts are with families of both.

  • WardofTheState Mar 3, 2008

    Mighty sad news, my condolences to the family. Using that seatbelt could have made the difference between life and death.

  • wood1 Mar 3, 2008

    Kids are going to be kids, but i beleive we need a better system for young inexperienced drivers to get their full driving privilege. A few hours of drivers ed is not enough training. i have a 15 year old daughter, she has her permit and her mother and i make her drive everywhere we go. There should be a minimal amount of seat time required to get your license.
    Most kids today never drive anything until they get behind the wheel of a car and some of them don't get a second chance.

  • jackadoo Mar 3, 2008

    Another weekend, another weekend where teens die on the highways. No children, you are not invinceable. This is so sad.

  • Tarheel True Mar 3, 2008

    How many times in my life have I read stories just like this.

    I am sure if the young lady would have put on the seatbelt she would have survived. But I have been guilty of the same thing, when you are young you think you are "bullet proof."

    My thoughts and prayers are with this family.

  • Dr. Dataclerk Mar 3, 2008

    There are a lot of young in-experienced people out on the highways. Too many lost lives continues. Maybe the law needs to be changed to about 21 when a young person can really get in the seat and drive. My condolence to both families for what they are/and will be going through. But remember the Lord is with you still.