Local News

Students mourn teen killed in high-speed crash

Posted December 8, 2009
Updated December 13, 2009

— East Wake High School students are mourning the loss of a fellow student who died Tuesday from injuries sustained in a high-speed crash.

Teen memorialized by friends Teen memorialized by friends

Gavin Boyd Westover, 16, of 9820 Debnam Road in Zebulon, was riding in a 1996 Chevrolet Camaro on Puryear Road in Knightdale Monday when the driver, Austin Wade Marx, 17, lost control of the car, troopers said. The Camaro went off the road and overturned.

Paramedics transported Westover to WakeMed where he later died.

“It took a while to believe it was true,” Conner Porter, Westover's friend, said Tuesday afternoon.

"I gave his mom a hug and she was just crying hysterically," Jacob Edwards, Westover's friend, recalled.

The teens had left school for an off-campus lunch when the crash happened.

Marx, of 204 Gail Ridge Lane in Wendell, survived the wreck. He was treated at WakeMed Monday and released.

East Wake principal Craig Baker said Marx and his family are trying to cope with the crash and Westover’s death.

"They are understandably upset at the situation,” Baker said.

Highway Patrol troopers said witnesses reported the car was traveling up to 90 mph. Investigators said evidence at the scene supported those reports.

"It doesn't make sense to be driving 90 mph on that particular road, coming out of a curve," Trooper Beckley Vaughan said.

Vaughan said teenage drivers need to slow down and pay attention to their surroundings.

"Add inexperience with high speed and you are subject to get results like we have now," Vaughan explained.

Another East Wake student was killed in a crash on Aug. 29.

Patrick Michael McLaughlin Jr., 17, of Zebulon, died when the vehicle he was driving veered off U.S. 64, near Lizard Lick Road, and hit a guardrail, then overcorrected and hit a tree. Troopers said speed was not a factor in that crash.

Vaughan said he hopes students will drive more carefully after two fatal wrecks among students at the same high school.

“I would not wish this on anybody. This is just the worst thing ever. Words can't express it. It is so bad,” Alex King, Westover's friend, said.

Charges are expected to be filed in Monday's crash, troopers said.

Grief counselors are scheduled to be at East Wake on Wednesday to help students cope with Westover's death.

Teen driving deaths increasing

The state Highway Patrol has seen an increase in the teenage driving deaths they investigate this year, according to statistics.

Since January, at least 52 teens have been killed in crashes investigated by the Highway Patrol.

The patrol said speed is to blame for the majority of these fatal accidents. Distractions, like cell phones, are also a problem.

The patrol and the UNC Highway Safety Research Center offer parent/teen driver agreements – a paper that reminds teens what is expected of them behind the wheel. Experts said this type of agreement can help teens focus.


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  • frosty Dec 10, 2009

    Actually I prefer a rear wheel drive vehicle to front wheel drive.But it does take more training and understanding to see the difference. Experience most don't have and almost no teenagers.The problem was the driver driving past his limits not the car's.

    Basic driver training is very limited and most kids (and adults) don't have the desire or maturity, is the case of most kids, for continued driver training.

  • familyfour Dec 9, 2009

    Rear wheel drives and wet roads = accidents waiting to happen. Add speed, and it is insured to occur.

    My condolences to all involved. I know all their hearts must be broken.

    I think everyone should take a moment to realize cars are a luxury, that is dangerous if used improperly.

    Just today, raining a storm, and folks were driving all over each other....literally.....

    I got ALL DAY.....especially if the only other alternative is getting in the middle of other's careless messes.

    It is not just teens, though.....

    It is everyone.....

  • OpinionOnEverything Dec 9, 2009

    Well, the kind of car DOES matter when it comes to teenagers. A muscle-car V8 is the perfect outlet for a teenage boy to show off to his friends, or to let off frustration. Too bad this had to happen, but parents really need to establish some limits and realize that age in years doesn't necessarily translate into age in wisdom.

    Some adults do the same thing, so it just proves my thesis that age is not a guide. I guess that's why my insurance didn't go down when I reached the age of 30.

  • wildcat Dec 9, 2009

    The driver, his friend will certainly be charged and it will not be sweet. The kind of car don't really matter. The speed did, though.

  • wildcat Dec 9, 2009

    But what about the adults that speed?

    This is a story about a young teenager who was killed while speeding. Not obeying the rules of the road. This was not about adults who we all know breaks the rules of the roads. I guess that is why young people do it, because they are following in your footsteps. Put the brakes on, stop and teach these young people by example. One life save is better than one gone forever.

  • misschris234 Dec 9, 2009

    "local. only problem is, his parents bought him a VERY fast car and he didnt respect it. im sorry for his family loss, the kids stupidity got the best of him"

    The child with the camaro is still alive and wasn't the driver... the only thing this kid did wrong was get in the car with his friend and not somehow force him to slow down. Now his friend will live the rest of his life knowing that his actions killed someone, that too, is a tragedy.

  • wildcat Dec 9, 2009

    16 years old can get a license but need to be more responsible when they get behind the wheel. They will not be the only driver on the road. If you are nervous, talkative, cell-phone and other distractions, or simply not obeying the rules of the road, then you are certainly asking for trouble. I would like to see all kids reach their senior years of 65 and above. Don't cut your life short.

  • wildcat Dec 9, 2009

    Talk and chat is very cheap. Have a meeting with you driving child and explain again the dangers of speeding and the consequences behind it. Follow them sometimes and just see for yourself how they are driving. If you catch them speeding or breaking the rules of the road, then take the car/truck away from them until they do learn.

  • wildcat Dec 9, 2009

    I agree with the folks who recommend ending off-campus lunch for highschool students.

    Ending off campus lunch probably will not stop the young speeders. It will happen nonetheless. After school hours or weekend. Parents need to be more involved in knowing how their child is driving.

  • Caroline Marie Dec 9, 2009

    I often tell my kids when they say I am nagging about seatbelts, speeding, or cell phones, that it isn't their driving I am so concerned about, it's everyone else's too.
    The bus driver who injured the fireman wasn't a teenager.