Local News

Deadly week for teens: Five die in wrecks

Posted December 15, 2009

— In the past week, four wrecks have left five teens dead in central and eastern North Carolina.

December was also a deadly month for teens last year. According to the state Highway Patrol, 15 of the state’s 161 teen fatalities occurred then.

According to the N.C. Highway Patrol, 136 teens have been killed in wrecks this year. Of those deaths, five have occurred this month.

On Monday, Nathan Cole, 18, a student at North Johnston High School, was killed in a three-car wreck on N.C. Highway 39 four miles north of Selma.

Authorities said Cole crossed the center line, side-swiped another vehicle and hit another car head-on. The driver of that vehicle, Victoria Jordan, 42, of Burgaw, was also killed.

On Sunday, two Mount Olive teenagers died in a head-on collision southeast of Goldsboro, state troopers said. Lisa Marie Myers, 17, was driving a vehicle west on Stevens Mill Road, near Mill Creek Road, when she drove left of the center line. Her vehicle collided with an oncoming truck. Myers and her passenger, Tyler Brewer, 15, were killed.

Ivor Joyce Tart described her grandson, Tyler Brewer, as loving and caring. She said he had just received his learner's permit and was excited about driving himself.

Yasmine Othman, 16, a sophomore at Panther Creek High School, died on Sunday from injuries she suffered in a wreck Dec. 8 on Good Hope Church Road, near N.C. Highway 55. Othman’s sister Susan, 17, was driving the two to school when she tried to pass a truck. The driver of the truck said he spilled coffee on himself and jerked the wheel, sending his truck over the center line, which authorities said forced the Othmans' car off the left side of the road.

The car struck a tree stump. Susan Othman, a senior at Panther Creek, was being treated at Duke University Hospital. She was charged with improper passing and speeding. The truck driver also faces charges.

Also on Dec. 8, Gavin Westover, 16, of East Wake High School, died in a wreck on Puryear Road in Knightdale. Westover was a passenger in a vehicle driven by 17-year-old Austin Wade Marx. Troopers said Marx lost control of a 1996 Chevrolet Camaro, before it ran off the road and overturned. Marx was charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Despite recent deaths, overall experts say the number of wrecks involving teen drivers in the state is decreasing.

The number of teen drivers killed in automobile wrecks in the state has been on a downward trend, according to Arthur Goodwin, senior research associate with the Highway Safety Research Center at the University of North Carolina.

The number of crashes involving teens has also decreased from 56,027 in 2003 to 48,758 last year, according to Goodwin.

Goodwin credited programs like Graduated Driver Licensing, which gradually exposes new drivers to the road. He said since GDL was first introduced in 1997 the state has seen a 33 percent reduction in crashes involving 16-year-old drivers and a 20 percent reduction in crashes involving 17-year-old drivers.

East Wake High School student Lucas Rice has created a group on social networking site Facebook to encourage teens to drive safely and not speed.

The group, which has nearly 1,800 members, features condolences to families who have lost a teen in a crash.

17 Comments

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  • Lyle Dec 16, 2009

    2sweetboys, I know my comments sounded kind of harsh, and I too am a reactionary driver sometimes, but I would need to have a face-to-face with the truck driver for about 10 seconds before I would get a vibe on his ability to do this. Sadly, I feel they share the blame. The girl was so wrong too........

  • 2SWEETBOYS Dec 16, 2009

    Lyle: I totally agree with your comments.....I know I am guilty of doing this a time or two myself when I see a dangerous situation in my rear view mirror....to protect myself. My husband is a Trooper and when we saw the news about this wreck, we both said the same thing.....I hope they investigate as well.

  • dancegurl9896 Dec 16, 2009

    I went to school with Nathan Cole! He is going to be missed around North Johnston! I dont think it is only teens that are bad drivers! I was in a wreck almost 4 weeks ago but it wasnt because I was a bad driver! I have always been as safe as I could on the roads. The problem is that the roads are not safe because there is just so many drivers out there on the roads now! What caused my wreck was that I passed out! That could have happened to anybody!!!!! I agree that the age should be raised and that we should have to attend classes! But if teens have to everyone should have to!

  • Bill of Rights Dec 16, 2009

    I've been driving for 20 years now, and I have to wonder how many adults in this forum are also bad drivers. I commute past Leesville High School every morning and see plenty of bad driving from adults. Cell phones and cigarettes are most definitely not the exclusive dominion of teenagers, and I have to wonder if this heightened paranoia simply gives adults another excuse to gripe about teenagers. Ditto for drunk driving; I see more adults than teenagers getting hauled off into police cars at DUI checkpoints.

    I support graduated licensing and would support stricter measures (such as Germany's graduated horsepower and engine size restrictions for new motorcyclists). There's no doubt that inexperience is a problem ... I'm just not sure that young drivers are the root of all evil on the roads.

  • SME2 Dec 16, 2009

    My problem with teen drivers is with parents who go out and buy high performance high horsepower vehicles and hand the keys to novice (RE: teen) drivers. I was sitting in stopped traffic a few years back and a young lady of 17 drove her Mustang GT right into the back of my truck. This girl should never have been given that much horsepower considering her lack of driving experience.-Big Bill

    I am sure she would have done that if she had a Civic or a Mustang. She was probably more safe in the Mustang depending on how high your truck is.

  • SME2 Dec 16, 2009

    I can not understand why any of those kids at EW would be able to go out for lunch when you consider its location. There are NO places to eat that are with in 5 minutes of the school. Unless you consider the popcorn they give away for free at Leith to be food.

  • Lyle Dec 16, 2009

    I would not be the least bit surprised if the truck driver on Good Hope Church Rd. was trying to send a strong message to the speeding, passing girl driver. I think he jerked the wheel to react to her audacity. "Spilled coffee" my eye. He helped kill the passenger. I hope they investigate that.

  • kellyaustin96 Dec 16, 2009

    The pontificating and posturing is amazing on this topic. The less experience you have with a skill the less able you are to perform it well. As long as we have automobiles the less inexperienced drivers will be having crashes and losing their lives.

    Every year there are articles on teens who push their skills beyond their experience and the inevitable tragedy occurs. This has been going on for years and will continue to go on through future years. Just raising the age at which you can drive will really make no appreciable difference, the unskilled will just be crashing at 18 or 21 instead of 16.

    We live in such a "nanny" state that what would work, they will not do anymore. Employ Maslow's theory of self-hiearchy's, 1st level of self preservation. Show 15 year olds the gory and gruesome after effects of a car crash from the scene, to the autopsy, to the funeral home, to the gravesite and end the visual with "Game Over." Works a lot better than an adult going: "blah,blah."

  • finder74698 Dec 15, 2009

    I don't really think inexperience or immaturity is the problem. It is the inability to deal with superficial distractions and that is a major problem with motorists young and old. Drop a cell phone, spill your coffee, check your GPS and in a split second your vehicle has wandered across the centerline. Mix in two or more teen friends and its a disaster waiting to happen with many of them. Drive first. That is most important.

  • wralfan1 Dec 15, 2009

    My car was rearended by a teenager who did not even had her license with her. It was nother car and no insurance. I ended up using my own insurance to get my car fixed. THe girl was arrested. I did not even bother to follow up since the girl was so irresponsible, smoking a cigarete in one hand and cell phone in anohter... My blood boils if I think abt this and I just want to forget abt teenage drivers.... who are irresponsibile

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