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Troopers, Sheriff Probing Fatal Farm Pond Wreck

Posted April 10, 2008

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— State and local authorities on Thursday began looking into a Tuesday morning wreck in which two people died after a car flipped into a farm pond in Cumberland County.

Stephen Andreas Loweke, 24, of Eastover, and Robyn Lynn Cockrell, 22, of Wake Forest, were found dead in about 15 feet of water. The pond was on private property about 500 yards off U.S. Highway 13 east of Interstate 95.

The couple, who had a 2-year-old son and planned to marry, were out with a friend to celebrate Cockrell's 22nd birthday and were joyriding in a field when Cockrell's Honda Accord went down a steep embankment into the pond, according to authorities and relatives.

The friend, Timothy Scott Letbetter, 23, of Wade, told authorities he jumped from the back seat as the car hit the water. He said the car sank too quickly for him to save his friends, so he ran about five miles to his home to call for help.

Letbetter told investigators Loweke was driving and that the crash happened between 3:15 and 3:45 a.m. His 911 call was made at 4:59 a.m.

Cockrell's family questioned Letbetter's account of the wreck.

"I would like to know why he didn't get help sooner," said her grandmother, Mary Cockrell. “I would like to know if he had a chance to get her out of that car.”

Letbetter couldn't be reached for comment Thursday, and Mary Cockrell said her family hasn't been able to reach him either.

"Please tell us what happened. Please let us know, " she said.

Authorities said Letbetter isn't a suspect in the investigation, but they want to question him further because he is the lone witness to the wreck and to determine whether any criminal charges are warranted.

A background check shows he was found guilty of drunken driving in 2004. He also has been charged in the past with reckless driving, underage drinking and driving and eluding arrest with a motor vehicle.

State Highway Patrol investigators and a Cumberland County Sheriff's Office detective returned to the scene of the wreck Thursday. They found open beer containers in the car, and a helicopter took aerial photographs of the field and pond.

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  • haggis basher Apr 11, 2008

    "too many variables to determine that it was impossible for the survivor to help."
    Maybe, but I think even in the best of circumstances you would be very lucky/skilled to be able to save someone in 15ft of water. Most folks probably couldn't even dive down that far let alone aopen a door and drag an unconcious person out. In the dark it would be impossible. If there is a crime here, its that he was the driver or he had some reason to kill them and make it look like an accident.....

  • giveback Apr 11, 2008

    I agree with Joe... there are too many unanswered questions. And the article said they wanted to talk to Letbetter... Why isn't he talking, and where is he? since he can't be reached. I know this area and things just don't add up. Clarification is needed for the families.

  • Why Is My Slim Physique Envied Apr 11, 2008

    It only takes a few seconds to drown.

  • giveback Apr 11, 2008

    In reference to the grandmother blaming Ledbetter: She has unanswered questions and anyone in that situation would want to know what happened first hand if they could... It did not say she blamed him for her death, just that she wonders why it took so long to call and if her granddaughter could have been saved in that time. I dont think it is asking too much.

  • sprice7 Apr 11, 2008

    And what if it *was* possible for him to have helped? Is it unlawful to panic and think only of yourself in a life threatning situation? These folks may have been his friends, but they were not his family/children. I don't see where he is responsible for them.

  • Joe Blow Apr 11, 2008

    haggis basher- I too saw that episode of Mythbusters... however the story doesn't clarify whether the windows were up or down.. sun roof open or closed.. seat belts on or off...too many variables to determine that it was impossible for the survivor to help.

  • Citizen7265 Apr 11, 2008

    I have not read previous stories. Is it definite the couple was found in the front seat? This story just seems very odd.

  • PACKFAN08 Apr 11, 2008

    Letbetter was driving, this one will be figured out soon enough.

  • justwondering2 Apr 11, 2008

    I agree with most of the post here that this story sounds a little fishy.

  • Bradley07 Apr 11, 2008

    sad sad sad somehow seems like there is more to this story.
    God Bless the little boy. Prays for the parents

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