Local News

Teen charged in wreck that killed West Johnston High senior

Posted May 16, 2010

— A 17-year-old was charged in a Saturday wreck that killed a West Johnston High School senior who was a passenger in her car, state troopers said Sunday.

Shantoya Howard was charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle in connection with the wreck on White Oak Road that killed 17-year-old Ariel Hughes.

Howard was injured in the wreck and remained in good condition at WakeMed Sunday.

Troopers said that Howard was driving about 55 mph in a 45-mph zone around 4:30 a.m. when her vehicle ran off the road, struck a tree and caught on fire. In the wreck report, Howard said she swerved to avoid a deer, but troopers could not confirm that.

Hughes, who wasn't wearing a seat belt, died upon impact, troopers said.

“I knew it was true once I heard it on the phone. Most people have to see it to believe it but as a mom, you can feel it when she's finally gone,” Ariel's mother, Christina Hughes, said.

Hughes' uncle, Jacob Hughes Jr., said everyone is grateful for a man who lives near the wreck scene who rushed to help. He pulled Hughes out of the car before it caught on fire, so her parents at least got to see her body, Hughes Jr. said.

Hughes was on track to graduate next month and planned to attend a culinary institute in Charlotte, her uncle said. She was active at Christian Faith Baptist Church in Raleigh and worked at Buffalo Wild Wings on White Oak Road in Garner.

Hughes' parents also said their daughter was dedicated to volunteering. She spent time working at a homeless shelter on the weekends.

“When it's someone so close to your heart, you don't expect that, you don't believe it. I still don't want to believe it,” Ariel's friend, Bianca Vasquez, said.

Funeral arrangements for Hughes are pending. Her parents said they don't blame Howard for the crash.

“I told her (Howard) that we're praying for her and not to blame yourself,” Ariel's father, Greg Hughes, said.

Hughes' death brought to nine the number of local high schoolers who have died in traffic wrecks in less than two months.

Lee County High School junior Josh Britt, 17, died in a head-on collision on U.S. Highway 1 in Sanford late Friday. Troopers said the car that Britt crashed into was stopped in the northbound lanes facing south and had its lights off. The driver of the other vehicle, Anthony Boswell, 48, of Sanford, also died.

Wrecks also claimed the lives of West Johnston High School senior Christopher Paul Kosmos, 18, and junior Alissa Chenette, 16, on March 29; Western Harnett High School sophomore Elizabeth Ann Harris, 16, on April 19; Hoke County High School seniors Kaleb Valliant, 18, and Thadius Markle, 18, on April 24; South Johnston High School sophomore Jessee Ferrell, 16, on April 28; and Southern Nash High School junior Michael Turner Jr., 17, on May 1.

In the past four years, more than 680 teenagers have been killed in wrecks that the state Highway Patrol investigated.


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  • plwillis May 17, 2010

    I feel sorry for her. it typically is a good person who ends up being the example. it just sucks for her. I hope they throw it out of court. Shes learned her lessons. Maybe the State will learn theres and do something about drivers ed.

  • wildcat May 17, 2010


  • wildcat May 17, 2010

    Why are today's young people that drive think it is COOL TO NOT WEAR THEIR SEATBELTS? Parents you really need to talk to your driving kid seriously about the seatbelts and rules and regulations of the road. Tomorrow you may look down in a casket of your kid. Talk to them today and tell them the consequences - like death. You don't want that and want to see them grow up and have a good life. Start now on the talk. Save your child life now.

  • wildcat May 17, 2010

    When will the day come that young people will learn to obey the rules and regulation of the highway. The rules and regulations are there for a purpose.

    My condolences to the family and many friend. May God continue to be with all of you.

  • plwillis May 17, 2010

    okay. Being the christian person I am..it doesn't matter how you go. If its your time to leave this earth there is NOTHING you can do about it. So what if she had of been at home asleep in the bed. She died because the good Lord needed her and her purpose on this earth had been completed. I pray for Shontoya. This is going to haunt her for all the days of her life. From job applications to nightmares those charges will ALWAYS be on her. And how do you know they were out messing around at 4:30 in the morning??? Did you ever stop to think that maybe they had a job at McDonald's and had to be there for the early morning shift??!! Don't judge the situation badly unless you know ALL the details and unless you are the family you don't know....and everyone seems not to believe the fact that a deer ran out in front of her. Deer are everywhere and tend to move in the early morning hours...like 4:30!!! I just hope none of you have to ever deal with this situation. Thanks

  • reaganhartley May 17, 2010

    You know, I hate to say it like this, but this really isnt a time to point fingers and blame people. An innocent child`s life was lost and as a result a whole community is morning. You can ask what if and make woulda, shoulda, and coulda situations but it doesnt change the fact that someone is dead. So, instead of blaming the parents or the driver or the passenger; why not offer your support and console the families and community that really needs it right now.
    *Okay im off my soapbox now, sorry*

  • iwasjustsaying May 17, 2010

    babedan...How do you know they didn't call?? How do you know why there were out? The story doesn't say...so you should not judge the parents of these girls..it could have happened at 8pm just as easy. Don't make this into something it's not. We haven't heard the whole story.

  • btneast May 17, 2010

    If a child no matter what, over the age of 18, does not want to abide by your house rules, show them the curb. If they think they are adult enough to make their decisions, then they are old enough to make a living and be on their own. My house, my rules. That's a parents job, whether one likes it or not.

    Babedan, I agree with that philosophy totally, but legally, they are adults at 18, regardless of who is supporting them. That Cake is done, there is nothing "legally" you can as a parent do to control them anymore, no matter how bad they might need it.

  • mrfleet2002 May 17, 2010

    I just have to compliment the mother and father on how strong they are and how much of a positive impact the statements made by them had on me

  • babedan May 17, 2010

    People keep jumping on those of us who are saying where is the curfew at? Well, If mentioning that a parent should be a parent and lay down the law opens the eyes of one parent who is reading this and makes them realize their responsibility as a parent is to make the rules and not to be thier childs "Best Friend" then maybe, just maybe it will save one person from having to go through this. I feel for the families of those involved, but guess what, facts are facts, and I know this if it had been my daughter that was out at 4:30 in the morning and i hadn't heard from her, I'd be calling every cop in the area.

    And yes, I am a parent, and yes my child is grown, but he had curfews when he was a teenager and he knew if he broke them, then he paid the price. He learned this at a very young age and thankfully, I never had to worry. Because if he was running late he made a phone call. If the Football team came back from a game at 2:00 in the morning he called before he left the school