Local News

Teen Charged in Crash That Killed Girlfriend

Posted March 3, 2008

— The Johnston County District Attorney's office Monday decided to charge a 17-year-old driver in the death of his 15-year-old girlfriend.

Dennis Olden McLamb, 17, of Four Oaks, faces one charge of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, 1st Sgt. Glen Stokes, with the state Highway Patrol, said. He was also charged with exceeding a safe speed and a child restraint violation.

Neither teenager was wearing a seat-belt, troopers said.

Johnston County prosecutors decided to file the charges after troopers presented evidence to them.

McLamb was driving girlfriend Taylor Renee Penny, 15, of Lillington, back from a friend's 18th birthday party around 8:30 p.m Saturday and lost control of the vehicle while rounding 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.

Penny was ejected from the pickup when it struck a ditch. The truck then flipped twice and landed on top of her.

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 an 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 the truck 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.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • news4u Mar 4, 2008

    Having been to every teen fatal crash and most fatal crashes in Johnston County for over 25 years I feel it is time to raise the driving age to at least 18. I have a 17 year old daughter driving now and another daughter becomes eligible this month to drive. My heart and prayers go out to all of the families and friends involved in these tragedies. When you see the crash photo posted on www.wtsbradio.com you will see it is a miracle anyone survived.

  • Mar 4, 2008

    Izzybizzy, your logic is exactly what's wrong with a lot of kids today. Unfortunately, you just don't get it.

  • something2say Mar 4, 2008

    Life can change in a blink of an eye! Go hug your kids/friends/family etc. today and be happy that you haven't had to experience this tragedy.

    It is our job to pay attention and drive safely. Take precautions and avoid accidents. As a teen, you think nothing will happen to you. I hope Driver Ed's classes and parents print off this story! Even 10 miles per hour is too much, not for a ticket but definitely can cause an accident. For the parents out there, I hope we find ways to impress upon our children the importance of being careful and safe when behind the wheel!

  • izzybizzy Mar 4, 2008

    To the people who think he shouldn't be charged. What if he hit another car under the exact same circumstances and killed someone? Maybe a loved one of yours..... would you want him charged? Cookie Me Elmo

    DO YOU THINK HER family wants him to be charged??????????

  • izzybizzy Mar 4, 2008

    I wish the whole 'speeding' would DROP- PLEASE...PEOPLE- he was speeding...but, it was NOT a factor in the accident. Let me repeat...speeding WAS NOT a factor!

    WHO HAS EVER HAD A TICKET GOING 10 over? WHo has NEVER had a ticket? Who has never made a mistakE???

  • izzybizzy Mar 4, 2008

    I agree with you! 17 years old...no drugs, no alchohol...really only going 10 over!!! He is a kid himself...who has MANY years to live, reliving this whole thing! So sad. If this was your son I'm sure you'd respond the same way...oh yeah, right!

  • izzybizzy Mar 4, 2008

    I just don't understand that reaction. I've run off the right side of the road a couple of times and my first reaction is to hit the brakes and slow down!

    You know, you may not understand that reaction...BUT< how often do we hear of it happening? HUH? especially with inexperienced drivers.....

    I bit you've never made a mistake either.... whatever!

  • nerjsf Mar 4, 2008

    Some of the comments I have read up to this point highlight a major problem with American society. We have become a society of victims. We are no longer held accountable for our actions or the choices we make. This young man made a choice, he chose to drive his girlfriend home and he chose to speed, he also chose not to wear a seatbelt and chose not to insist his girlfriend wear a seatbelt. He was RESPONSIBLE for the safe operation of the vehicle and he was RESPONSIBLE for the safety of the occupants, therefore he is RESPONSIBLE for the death of his girlfriend and should be held accountable.

  • Mar 4, 2008

    Mr. McLamb should be and has been charged in this accident. I don't understand why some folks feel he deserves to be treated differently. Poor choices were made and the consequences are painfully obvious. Mr. Lamb accidentally took another person's life. The charges are appropriate. Sorry, no free passes today.

  • merrywidow Mar 4, 2008

    Such a tragic accident. I don't think the boy should be charged. Age/maturity has nothing to do with this young man's actions. We hear all the time about older people who run off the road, overcorrect and crash.

    I just don't understand that reaction. I've run off the right side of the road a couple of times and my first reaction is to hit the brakes and slow down!