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Wrong-way driver identified in fatal Nash County crash

Posted July 6, 2011
Updated July 9, 2011

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— The North Carolina State Highway Patrol on Wednesday released details of Tuesday's Nash County crash that killed two people, including the identity of one driver and troopers' response to the wreck.

Germain Alexander Granados Gomez was driving a Honda Accord the wrong way on U.S. Highway 64 East, near Frazier Road, at about 100 mph and crashed into a Chevrolet Cobalt carrying three teenage girls and going 70 mph.

Gomez, 34, a permanent, legal U.S. resident who lived in Farifax, Va., and Brianna McLaughlin, 17, who was in the back seat of the Cobalt, died. Paige Ashley Toelke, 17, of Nashville, and Leigh Anderson Bulluck, 17, of Rocky Mount, were seriously injured.

Based on physical evidence, troopers initially suspected that both Gomez and Toelke, who was driving the Cobalt, had been drinking and that alcohol was a factor in the wreck.

Troopers said they also found prescriptions for a strong painkiller and an anti-nausea medicine in Gomez's car and were investigating if they too played a role. 

The Highway Patrol is still investigating the wreck and a final report is pending.  

Family members of Toelke and Bulluck released a statement through WakeMed Hospital on Thursday saying the girls did not have alcohol in their systems at the time of the wreck.

"We would like to clearly state that neither Paige nor Leigh An had alcohol in their systems at the time of the accident, as proven by the negative (0.0) blood alcohol tests administered when they arrived at the WakeMed Trauma Center," the statement read.

Gomez was convicted of misdemeanor driving while impaired last August in Fairfax County, Va., and served five days in jail, court officials said.

McLaughlin was not wearing a seat belt, while the others involved in the wreck were wearing theirs.

Multiple motorists called 911 to report that Gomez's Honda was going the wrong way. One caller said that she had followed him from the other side of the highway for almost 12 miles between her first and second 911 calls.

Two troopers were working overnight to cover Nash and Edgecombe counties, and both were already responding to calls when the first call about the wrong-way driver came in, authorities said Wednesday.

One trooper was three miles behind the wrong-way driver when the wreck occurred and arrived at the scene two minutes later, a representative of the Highway Patrol said. The second trooper arrived three minutes later.

Toelke, a rising senior at Northern Nash High School, was in serious condition, and Bulluck, a rising senior at Rocky Mount Academy, in fair condition at WakeMed in Raleigh Wednesday.

Bulluck became sleepy while driving and switched with Toelke, relatives said. 

McLaughlin's parents said the girls had left a friend's house and were supposed to be staying at either Bulluck's or Toelke's house.

Authorities said that Toelke had her full provisional license and was allowed to have passengers. 

170 Comments

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  • coolboyao93 Jul 6, 2011

    i think its sad how the majority of you all are arguing and putting the blame on the HP. show some respect to the families and to the girls family that passed away.

  • scary35 Jul 6, 2011

    You don't know how many square miles HP and SO cover do you, they cover more than you think. So quit talking about somthing you know nothing about. They cover more than you think.

  • cs7744 Jul 6, 2011

    AMEN rpcr!!!!

  • Common Sense Man Jul 6, 2011

    "Common (or should I say Uncommon) Sense Man. It would be a little over 8 mins to travel those 12 miles. I hate to think how fast those Troopers had to drive to get there when they did. Now that's risking your life for public safety."

    I was responding to someone else's quote, hence those " " " " " " " " " pesky things at the beginning and end before I commented.

  • AtALost Jul 6, 2011

    Even if the HP responded to the 911 calls in time, there's no guarantee they could have stopped this guy. He likely would have sped up and then you'd be blaming the HP for chasing him.

    We like to believe there's plenty of law enforcement to protect us, but the truth is they can't be everywhere at once. Money that should be spent on additional officers, infrastructure, etc. is given to illegals because they can reproduce. Democrats look the other way because they want votes. Republicans support offshoring so it's a pick your poison situation.

  • rpcr Jul 6, 2011

    The cause of the accident was a driver going the wrong way on a one-way highway, at 2 am. Anyone driving the Cobalt would likely have been unable to avoid the crash. You don't exactly expect oncoming traffic on a one-way divided highway, especially if you're going 70 in that area; you're probably being passed by everyone else.

    Alcohol use isn't really relevant, unless it's what caused Mr. Gomez to drive the wrong direction. The girls were not speeding and were obeying traffic laws like any other car. It's just their vehicle that Mr. Gomez hit. It could have been the one in front or the one behind. It happened.

    It's tragic, and very very sad. Heartbreaking. Many of these comments are useless.

  • ncmedic201 Jul 6, 2011

    @farpost, you left out many town PD agencies in your calculations. SO & HP don't have that many square miles to cover that you have indicated.

  • ncmedic201 Jul 6, 2011

    @btneast, the caller got the NASH county dispatch center. You keep stating you don't know who they got. They got NASH county. With the exception of RMPD, all PD is on the same channel. Also, NCSO could have been simultaneously dispatched. Nashville & Spring Hope could have been dispatched. If you know anything about either of these towns then you know it would have only taken 1-2 minutes to get an officer on 64 from either of these towns and that they both have PD 24/7. Shad has a legitimate question that needs answering. Were SHPD or Nashville dispatched to assist?

  • two2294 Jul 6, 2011

    cubash I was talking about the girl in the car with her that died not the other driver JA.....her driving and her actions help kill her friend and I do believe that vehicle homicide statute is in NC if its not it should be.....if she had not been drinking and at her friends house like all their mother's was told then the other girl would be alive..

  • Commenter Jul 6, 2011

    Too bad the driver wasn't a hot blond in a Lexus. The SHP would have been there in a flash.

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