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2 Die After Car Crashes in Cumberland County Pond

Posted April 8, 2008
Updated April 10, 2008

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— Two people were killed early Tuesday when a driver lost control of a car and drove into a Cumberland County pond near the town of Wade, authorities said.

North Carolina Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Everett Clendenin said officers responded to the single-car accident about 5 a.m. on private property near construction for an expansion of Interstate 95. The site is about 500 yards off U.S. Highway 13 east of Interstate 95.

Highway Patrol Sgt. Joel Siles said crews recovered the car from about 15 feet of water. The driver, Stephen Andreas Loweke, 24, of Eastover, was found outside the car as if he were trying to escape, Siles said.

Robyn Lynn Cockrell, 22, of Wake Forest was identified as the other victim. She was in the passenger-side front seat.

A backseat passenger, Timothy Scott Letbetter, 23, of Wade, escaped the sinking car and reported the accident. Letbetter said the accident happened between 3:15 a.m. and 3:45 a.m.

Troopers said Loweke might not have seen the ground suddenly drop off toward the pond.

Letbetter's father said his son was in the back seat of the Honda Accord and jumped out as it hit the water. The car filled up so fast, he said, the two in the front seat had no time to escape.

Letbetter swam out to the car but it quickly sank, his father said. He returned home about two miles away and called 911.

It's still unclear why the three friends were in the area in the middle of the night, but investigators think alcohol might have been involved.

"Mr. Letbetter, the survivor, doesn't seem to really know, either," trooper Mike Chavis said. "He just remembers hitting water and water being on him and people screaming, 'Get out of the vehicle.'"

Phillip Cockrell said it was his daughter's birthday, and they had likely been out celebrating.

Cockrell said his daughter and Loweke were dating and had talked of getting married. The two had a son, who is 1½ years old.

"She was a fantastic girl," Cockrell said. "A sweet daughter, a great person."

30 Comments

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  • ghimmy47 Apr 11, 2008

    Folks ... something is wrong here. I'm VERY familiar with those bridge fills ... and that car went fairly slowly down that one. If it were going any speed it would jump at the top. The marks are from the top all the way down.

  • mom2threecld Apr 8, 2008

    This is so sad, but it doesn't say alcohol was a factor. I just hope the baby has a loving set of grandparents to care for her and as she grows, teach her about her parents

  • Fuquay Resident Apr 8, 2008

    "There's no excuse for drinking and driving. However, I think North Carolina has a serious problem with the lack of guardrails along it's roads." -njjeff

    What the heck does this have to do with guardrails? This was on private property the men were not driving down a state road.

  • MizzZeta Apr 8, 2008

    My thoughts and prayers are with the family during their time of loss. I understand from the tv news report that a young child no longer has her parents. God bless this child.

  • Godschild43 Apr 8, 2008

    This is sad.My prayers goes out to thease too family's and to the person that lived through this he watched his frineds die.

  • jzhales68 Apr 8, 2008

    i knew steven, and robin, this is the worst news ive gotten in a long long time. rip steveo

  • njjeff Apr 8, 2008

    There's no excuse for drinking and driving. However, I think North Carolina has a serious problem with the lack of guardrails along it's roads.

  • seeingthru Apr 8, 2008

    really bad but it sounds like someone was driving over the limit--alcohol, poss speed combined, bad combo

  • emailmercedes Apr 8, 2008

    also, don't forget to try to open the trunk before you hit the water; the front will sink first and you maybe able to pull down the backseat and get into the trunk to get out.

  • emailmercedes Apr 8, 2008

    WIKI article on how to escape a sinking care - http://www.wikihow.com/Escape-from-a-Sinking-Car

    i was just reading this article two weeks ago after watching a TV show; first thing you should do as you're heading into the water is try to get your windows down. apparently power windows will work for a good couple of minutes before they shortout. keep your belt on until the last minute right before you can get out the window or you'll lose you're leverage. and like everyone else has said, if you can't get the windows down, you have to wait 'til the car fills up so that you can open the door.
    what i found contrary to human nature was that you should keep your belt on until right before you can get out.

    it doesn't seem like something that could happen to you, but i bet these poor souls never thought it would happen to them.

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