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Scene of fatal crash draws family members looking for solace and a safer highway

Posted October 27, 2008

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— Neighbors say something needs to be done to keep drivers safe at a deadly intersection in Harnett County. Their call comes after five people died Friday night.

The accident happened at the intersection of Fairground Road and N.C. Highway 27 in Harnett County. Family members went to the roadside Monday to pay their respects and to call for action.

N.C. 27 is a noisy, two-lane road. Trucks roar past, day and night. It was at Fairground Road that a tractor-trailer hauling gasoline killed Rosa Chavez's brother-in-law.

She sprinkled holy water at the site, which is still sprinkled with debris, and hammered a cross into the ground.

"It's very difficult. There are a little bit of answers. Everything is so weird," Chavez said.

Her brother-in-law was in a Honda Accord with four other people. The state Highway Patrol says the driver ran through a stop sign, and the truck coming from Benson on N.C. 27, plowed into the car, killing everyone inside.

The driver of the truck was not seriously injured, and the driver of a third vehicle that was involved is now home from the hospital. The Highway Patrol said its investigation is still under way, but it doesn't appear alcohol was involved.

One of those killed was pregnant, Ashley Martinez, 17, and her death brought Seneca James to the scene Monday in hopes of getting more information about what happened.

“Ashley was my brother’s fiancé, and they were planning to get married,” she said.

Neighbor John Ennis said he has “seen lots of accidents here." He has lived by the crossroads since 1973.

Ennis said he remembers five fatal accidents at the same spot before the one Friday night. A hill on N.C. 27, he said, makes for a dangerous blind spot.

“I knew this was definitely another bad one,” he said. “I didn’t know it would be the worst one I’d seen at this intersection, but it was.”

"Looking over that hill is the biggest problem. People (on Fairground) cannot see traffic coming from Benson on 27," Ennis said.

On the side of the crossroads from which the Honda was coming, Fairground Road has a stop sign. On the other side of the intersection, however, Bailey Crossroads Road has two stop signs, a flashing red light, rumble strips, and another flashing light back around a bend to warn of the approaching highway.

The single stop sign is not enough for Chavez.

The intersection needs "lights, something – lights, four stops (signs). I don't know, something,” she said.

Ennis said an overhead caution light would be a good idea.

Trooper Greg Steffans of the Highway Patrol said the intersection does not have an unusually high number of accidents and is no more dangerous than many others.

Those who see the noisy two-lane every day are not convinced, however.

7 Comments

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  • dmn Oct 28, 2008

    Very sad and I pray for all the families involved. I myself was the victim of someone running a stop sign back in May. While my car was completly destroyed, I was lucky to limp away.
    People, please hang up the cell phones and pay attention while driving.
    Government, please discontinue your policy of using stop signs to regulate speeds. It reduces the amount of respect that most people give to ANY stop sign.

  • beachboater Oct 28, 2008

    I have to agree that a particular wreck doesn't make an intersection safe or dangerous. I wasn't there, and I don't know what happened, but if someone ran a stop sign, and there were rumble strips in place, then someone made a mistake that unfortunately cost several lives.

    People still have to take responsibility for their own actions.

    Thoughts and prayers to the victims and families.

  • leo-nc Oct 28, 2008

    Putting up signs and strips isn't going to make a difference. What's so hard to understand about the word STOP on a big red sign? I mean, I feel bad for the family of those who were killed but lets get real here. If you can't understand what a stop sign means, then you shouldn't be driving on the road. There are lots of intersections setup where traffic comes at you from a hill and at an angle. If you can't see, then don't go. When you take a chance, you take that chance with your life and 99% of the time, you might be fine but when that one unexpected vehicle is coming, then it's going to kill you. All the signs in the world aren't going to make up for the lack of common sense. But hey, DOT has big pockets so why not make a big stink about the intersection? They're just getting prepared to sue and with the court of public opinion on their side, they have a better shot than most.

  • Bendal1 Oct 28, 2008

    My wife drives through that intersection every day to and from work, and I've driven through it too several times. It's not any worse or better than thousands of other intersections in this state, and the number of warning signs, stop signs and rumble strips should alert any driver that an intersection is just ahead. I agree with those saying that putting up more signs would probably not have prevented this fatal crash.

  • ccacrabbitdog Oct 27, 2008

    i completely agree with fuquay resident....the loss is bad but the crash has nothing to do with the intersection....every time there's a fatality people say its a bad intersection...when the story shows that the patrol says it ain't....stop means stop....maybe it should have said alto......

  • simplelogic Oct 27, 2008

    My parents live near there, so I'm very familiar with that intersection. It IS dangerous - not only can you not see over that hill coming from Benson, Fairground Road approaches at an angle that makes it even more difficult to see what's coming. If it's late at night and you don't know the road well, more signs and/or blinking lights very well might save someone's life. The rumble strips apparently aren't enough.

  • Fuquay Resident Oct 27, 2008

    This is indeed a very sad story but I don't see how additional stop signs, a caution light, or anything else will make a difference. If he didn't stop for 1 stop sign, what makes them think he would have stopped for 3 or 4 more stop signs or a blinking light?