Spring Hope, N.C. — A driver traveling the wrong way on a Nash County highway died early Tuesday when, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol said, his vehicle collided with a car carrying three teenage girls, killing one and injuring the other two.
Authorities said they believe both drivers had been drinking.
The wreck happened around 2 a.m. on U.S. Highway 64 near Frazier Road, about 4 miles southwest of Spring Hope.
A 34-year-old man was driving a 1989 Honda westward in the eastbound lanes when he hit a 2000 Chevrolet carrying three 17-year-old girls, Highway Patrol Sgt. David Wainwright said.
The man's name was not released, pending notification of his family. Beer cans could be seen on the floor of his wrecked car, along with a malt beverage behind the steering wheel.
Multiple motorists called 911 reporting the vehicle traveling in the wrong direction, including a woman who followed from the other side of the highway in the eastbound lane.
Troopers from Rocky Mount were dispatched to look for the wrong-way driver when the woman called 911 again, saying that, at one point, he appeared to be going at least 90-95 mph.
"I don't know how many accidents he's almost been in," she said. "I just want to make sure the cops understand how fast he's going, and we're already almost 12 miles down the road from when I first called them."
She was on the phone with 911 when the two vehicles collided.
Despite the speed, investigators said speed was not the determining factor in the wreck.
The back-seat passenger in the Chevrolet, Brianna McLaughlin, of Rocky Mount, died in the crash, troopers said. She was not wearing a seat belt.
The Chevrolet's driver, Paige Toelke, of Nashville, and front-seat passenger, Leigh Bulluck, of Rocky Mount, were taken to WakeMed with serious injuries. They were both wearing seat belts, troopers said.
Toelke, a rising senior at Northern Nash High School, was listed in critical condition, and Bulluck, a rising senior at Rocky Mount Academy, was listed in fair condition Tuesday morning.
It's unclear if Toelke's passengers had been drinking as well.