Local News

Northern High senior called smiling peacemaker

Posted December 11, 2008

— A Northern High School senior died in a three-vehicle crash at Milton and North Roxboro roads on his way to school Thursday morning.

Anthony Devon Pegram, 17, was a passenger in a 1998 Mitsubishi driven north on North Roxboro by John Thomas Bass II, also 17, around 7 a.m., Durham police said.

Bass tried to turn left onto Milton Road when a southbound 1997 Dodge van hit the passenger side of his car, police said. The Mitsubishi spun around and hit the front of a 2004 Ford pickup truck, driven by Orsby Wesley McMillan, of Durham.

Pegram died at the scene. Emergency crews took Bass to Duke University Hospital, and he was expected to recover fully.

The driver of the van, Bobby Jean Holmes, of Raleigh, was treated at the scene for minor injuries, and McMillan and his wife, who was a passenger, were uninjured, police said.

Police said that Holmes had a green light. The van is owned by Experience Taxi and Wheelchair Service, which is licensed in Raleigh.

Police had not filed any charges but were continuing to investigate the wreck.

Holmes told WRAL News that she didn't have time to react when the Mitsubishi pulled out in front of her. She said she feels very badly for Pegram's family.

The students' coach asked for people to support Bass through their grief.

"He's got bumps and bruises here and there, and he's very, very sore, very tender," Anthony Sullivan, Northern's head football coach, said. "But more than anything, he's got a sore heart."

Students, faculty mourn smiling 'peacemaker'

Word of the crash and Pegram's death spread quickly through Northern High School. In the rain, students gathered in the parking lot and comforted each other, crying and hugging.

Emergency medical officials said one student was so overcome he had to be treated inside the school and escorted out.

Student Holden Wright was sitting in class when he found out about his friend's death.

"(Principal John Colclough) called on the intercom and said that Anthony had been killed," Wright said. "It's just sad. It's terrible. Everybody knew him because he was such a good guy."

Counselors descended on the school to help grieving students, and the school allowed students to leave early, if they wished.

Coaches and students remembered Pegram as a smiling, happy young man at the heart of the school's football family. He played at No. 84 as a receiver.

"You can't say it enough: He smiled all the time, and to the point where people didn't always know when he was serious and when he was joking around," Sullivan said.

"He could be serious and funny anytime, but he was really serious about football. He was a good football player," Wright said.

Pegram's principal said that only a day before, he had put his arm around the student as he thanked him for helping defuse a confrontation.

"Anthony was one of those folks that would always give you the the smile. But he would also enter himself into a situation that was tense and try to be the peacemaker," Principal John Colclough said.

"That's the difficult part when you see an opportunity taken away – a student that was going to be a success."


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  • kal Dec 12, 2008

    I am in way saying this applies to the driver in this accident. But to those of you who say we should raise the driving age. Do you know how many people are out their driving with a license and/or insurance. If you listen to the comments these people make-they don't care. These people will do what they want. My prayers go out to BOTH families

  • haggis basher Dec 11, 2008

    "and find his unnecessary comments hurtful." As opposed to those statements saying that god planned his death? I never said anything against this Kid or his Family. I at least know the enormity of their and his loss. I don't pretend that their is some big happy land in the clouds. He is gone forever and will never have the life he and his family hoped for.

  • war4heels Dec 11, 2008

    I drove by this accident this morning and had I left earlier this could have been me involved... I am a graduate of Northern Durham High and my thoughts and prayers go out to this young man's family. I want to bring up a point here as well, people when you see a officer or an emergency vehicle approaching please just stop, this morning at the very next intersection (Latta and Roxboro) a Lexus literally flew by doing at least 55 while a officer was trying to respond to the accident, thank goodness there was a state trooper behind me that had the common sense to pull him over for his stupidity, things like that just lead to more accidents, really what's the big rush?

  • cpk1979 Dec 11, 2008

    I feel for all of his families and friends. Know he finds peace and love where he is now.

  • Historian snuck back in Dec 11, 2008

    My sincere condolences to the family and friends of these fine young adults!!!

  • LocalYokel Dec 11, 2008

    it doesn't have to be like this. The accident was totally preventable. If we only took driving more seriously and exercise patience...

  • bronzegoddess40 Dec 11, 2008

    My heart goes out to the families of these children. I remember when I was 16 and got my license, my mother and father sat me down in the living room and I will never forget this as long as I live and explained to me that car was nothing to play with and I was to be cautious at all times, driving correctly myself and also watching out for other drivers. Also they said that I should never take chances. At the time I thought they were corny and cheesy because I knew all this from drivers ed. But in the end I did listen and remembered all that they taught me and I also passed it on to my own children. All parents should sit down and have this talk with their children and now is the time with all these kids getting killed like this in auto accidents. We have to get back to parenting and telling our children what needs to be done.

  • christineswisher Dec 11, 2008

    Tragic for this family especially at this time of year - it's always very painful to lose a child, especially an outstanding one as this young man. Prayers......

  • TeresaBee Dec 11, 2008

    Many yeard ago I read the advice column of Ann Landers. She had a letter written to her by a drivers ed. teacher. He said we don't drive with our feet. We don't drive with our hands. We drive with our eyes. We all need to remember this and also to tell all our children. Drive with your eyes.

  • Dr. Dataclerk Dec 11, 2008

    Continue to pray for all young people that are driving that they will learn something from these two tragedies. A girl die in Chatham County from a car accident. She was 16.