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Friends remember high school student killed by crash

Posted May 2, 2010

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— Southern Nash High School students are mourning the loss of a classmate who died Saturday following a wreck near Rocky Mount.

Students gather to remember crash victim Students gather to remember crash victim

Michael Turner Jr., 17, of Elm City, was driving a 1996 Chevrolet passenger car west on West Mount Drive around 7:15 a.m. when he ran a stop sign at Old Carriage Road, the state Highway Patrol said. His car was struck on the passenger side by a 2007 Chevrolet Suburban going at least 50 mph. Turner was pronounced dead at Nash General Hospital.

His friends gathered Sunday in the parking lot of Southern Nash High to remember Turner.

“He was out there to get friends and do well in school, and it's unreal that somebody so innocent can be taken from us,” Southern Nash student Bailee Stone said.

“We're not related, but I consider him to be the closest brother I've ever had,” Southern Nash student Brad Dickens said.

Turner's friends say he was one of the top students in his class and an Eagle Scout. He was on his way to take his SATs when the crash happened.

“He was smart. He did well in school. I always saw him studying,” Stone said.

Another memorial for Turner is planned Monday at the school.

“I told him stuff that I wouldn't tell anybody else. He's just one of those friends that if you lose him, you're never going to get him back,” Southern Nash student Eric Freeman said.

Troopers said the other driver involved in Turner's crash won't be charged.

Turner's visitation is scheduled for Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the Wheeler and Woodlief Funeral Home, 1130 N. Winstead Ave. in Rocky Mount, officials said. His funeral will follow the visitation at 7 p.m.

Four high schoolers die from wrecks in a week

Turner was the fourth high school student to die from a wreck over the past week in central and eastern North Carolina.

On Wednesday, South Johnston High School sophomore Jessee Ferrell, 16, died in a wreck with his best friend's vehicle as they were headed to school.

Four days earlier, Hoke County High School seniors Kaleb Valliant, 18, of Aberdeen, and Thadius Markle, 18, of Raeford, died in a two-vehicle wreck in Fayetteville.

Wrecks are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the state, according to troopers. In the past four years, 682 teenagers have been killed in wrecks investigated by state Highway Patrol.

Half of the fatal wrecks occur on rural roads, and speed is the leading cause of the wrecks, according to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration.

Johnston County, in particular, has struggled with a highest rate of teen driving deaths. Nearly 40 teenagers have died there in the past five years – three so far this year, nine in 2009 and seven in 2008.

For the next two weeks, state troopers will be conducting extra patrols outside Johnston County schools. They will also teach high schoolers about traffic safety as part of the “Live to Drive, Drive to Live.”

"Our goal is to educate teenage drivers on the dangers of driving irresponsibly," commander Col. Randy Glover said in a statement. "The Highway Patrol is committed to saving teenage lives on our highways, and we will continue to look at various avenues to address this issue."

29 Comments

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  • wildcat May 3, 2010

    Lets not forget teenagers drinking illegal alcohol and is underage.

  • wildcat May 3, 2010

    A simple driving error can be tragic.

    Not following the rules and regulations of the road, not wearing their seat-belts, using the cell phone, speeding, driving not paying attention. If a person did not do these things many accidents or tragedies would probably would not occur.

  • wildcat May 3, 2010

    Pray that there will be no more tragedies by teenagers this ending school year.

  • wildcat May 3, 2010

    It doesn't matter how smart you are..when this happens any little mistake can cost you your life...sad1

    Only if you observed the rules and regulations on the high way. No cell phone etc. while under the wheel. Wonder why other teenagers that drive are still living?

  • wildcat May 3, 2010

    No sense in pointing the fingers in the blame game. Many teenagers are inexperience but parents don't realized this until they find themselves looking at their child in a casket.

    What are you as a parent learning from this tragedy, that you should pass on to your love one - your child?

  • wildcat May 3, 2010

    There will always be memories of these fellows. May the family and friends keep the memories each day by talking, showing pictures, visiting their grave site etc.

  • Desiderata May 3, 2010

    Drivers ed classes are not to blame,,blame the parents who let these kids drive by them selves so early...even seasoned experienced drivers make deadly mistakes!

  • Desiderata May 3, 2010

    It doesn't matter how smart you are..when this happens any little mistake can cost you your life...sad1

  • Da Toy Maker May 3, 2010

    For those of you would like to Have other people reporting your Teens' bad driving, there is a Business/Website that you could pay a fee for a sticker with a number identifying the Vehicle plus an 800 to call. It started by a couple ladies in Wake county. WRAL did a report on it a few months back. Sorry I don't remember the name of the Website or the business. Maybe you could contact the WRAL Webmaster to get the info.Maybe worth to check it out.

  • GALNC May 3, 2010

    My thoughts and prayers are with their families. A simple driving error can be tragic.

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