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Soldier Charged in Death of Girl, 9, in Funeral Procession

Posted March 15, 2008
Updated March 16, 2008

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— A soldier faces charges in a Hoke County accident that killed a a 9-year-old girl who was riding in her grandmother's funeral procession and injured 13 others.

The Highway Patrol said David Deming, 32, had just graduated from sniper school at Fort Bragg and was driving to his Colorado home on Friday when his truck went across the center line on Aberdeen Road and side-swiped two limousines in the procession. Deming was reaching for a Mountain Dew soda at the time, troopers said.

Cheyenne Thomas, 9, of Ash in Brunswick County, was riding in the second limo and died from injuries sustained in the crash, troopers said.

The collision overturned the limousines, which had been headed toward Clinton. Deming’s truck also ran head-on into another truck that was behind the limos.

Deming was treated at a hospital and released, and troopers charged him with misdemeanor death by vehicle and driving left of center. Alcohol was not a factor, they said.

“I thought we were the only ones who had gotten hit, but my brother, Michael, came running and screaming, 'Cheyenne's gone, Cheyenne's gone,'” crash victim Lynn Jackson said.

Richard Thomas, who was also in the second limo, was flown to UNC Hospitals, where he was listed in critical condition Saturday night.

“You think this is something to happen to somebody else and it doesn't happen to your family, but it can,” Jackson said.

Jackson said it is hard to believe she has now lost her niece and her mother, Freedonia Horne, to whose funeral they were traveling.

“My mother has yet to be buried. We have another funeral we're going to have to go to," she said.

Jackson said she knows accidents happen and is not angry at Deming.

15 Comments

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  • K9Tucker.LoveMYcop Mar 17, 2008

    Tragic for all involved - including the soldier

    as for pulling over for a funeral procession - this happened on a highway

  • superk Mar 17, 2008

    My condolences to all the families involved in this misfortune. May God grant you peace and forgiveness.

    When I first started driving about 45 years ago in the midwest, there was a law, which was enforced, that when you came upon a funeral procession, you pulled off to the side of the road and waited until the entire procession was passed before proceeding. I guess in this day and age people are too "rushed" to be respectful of the deceased and their loved ones. I don't recall there being a low like this in NC.

  • Adelinthe Mar 17, 2008

    It's not a Southern Tradition of pulling over for a funeral procession. Ya'all may do it here, but the tradition started long ago - even before cars where there was a superstition against cutting through or passing a funeral procession. It was said you'd be the next one to die if you did so.

    At any rate though this soldier is at fault, it could've happened to any of us and compassion should be shown on all sides.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • oceanchild71 Mar 17, 2008

    (Con't)

    Finally, while I am not always the first person to defend the military or a military person, did ya read that this guy just graduated from Sniper School? This means he has not been in trouble and should have some amount of sense and intelligence.

    If there is anyone out there who says they drive every day every time distraction-free, I call bull. If you notice a billboard, that is a distraction. If you notice a bumper sticker, that is a distraction. If you are looking at the person next to you talking on their cell phone, you are being distracted. If you talk to a person in the car with you, that is being distracted.

    Keep it up folks. Do you want cameras and microphones mounted inside our cars so Big Brother can make sure we aren't listening to music or talk radio (those are distractions by the way) or aren't getting spitting out a piece of gum?

    Don't get me wrong. I feel for the little girl and her family. But typical knee-jerk reactions don't help anyone.

  • ++Ajax++ Mar 17, 2008

    See the article about the Professor who was killed in a wreck. They don't indentify the driver that caused the wreck by occupation or as "unemployed". I wonder why wral has "soldier" in the headline. Is the story about the soldier or about the girl killed? Once again they didn't say anything about the drivers occupation who killed the professor. I wonder why???? oh I know why.

  • oceanchild71 Mar 17, 2008

    "To the soldier - Had you been being respectful of the procession you were meeting, reaching for a Mt. Dew would not have been a problem because you would have been pulled over and stopped in respect of the family. Good manners never go out of style and would have prevented a tragedy in this case." Glass Half Full

    There are many people who have never heard of this tradition. It depends on where you are from and varies from community to community. It also depends on the road situation. If there is no shoulder on the road and there are ditches right off the road, it may not be a wise decision to stop. Also, actions of other drivers in the vicinity may make it a wiser decision to keep going to avoid getting hit yourself. He may have also not realized until the accident happened that there was a funeral procession going on.

  • ++Ajax++ Mar 17, 2008

    I've always wanted to know why they feel the need to indentify people by the job they have. What does him being a soldier have to do with the accident? Did they name the employer of the others who were hurt in the wreck??? hmmmmm. Take a look and see how often they name the persons job in the event of a death or something else. Interesting headline wral.

  • beachbum1 Mar 17, 2008

    This is sort of off subject, but I take pride in the southern tradition of pulling over for a funeral procession

    Exactly, that's also something we do in the north. It's a respect thing and sounds like this guy was traveling at a high rate of speed altho i didn't see anything about that. My prayers to the family.

  • Groovy Mar 17, 2008

    This is a tragedy for all involved but the soldier was negligent by not paying attention to driving his vehicle. This is sort of off subject, but I take pride in the southern tradition of pulling over for a funeral procession. It's mainly a matter of respect but also safety due to the normally long line of cars.

  • Glass Half Full Mar 17, 2008

    My thoughts and prayers to the family of the injured and deceased.

    To the soldier - Had you been being respectful of the procession you were meeting, reaching for a Mt. Dew would not have been a problem because you would have been pulled over and stopped in respect of the family. Good manners never go out of style and would have prevented a tragedy in this case.

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