Local News

Woman not bitter about fiery Sanford wreck that killed husband

Posted July 18, 2011

— A woman whose husband died recently in a fiery wreck caused by a driver heading the wrong way on U.S. Highway 1 in Sanford said Monday that she wants a better explanation of what led to the crash.

David Earl Spears, 46, was headed home to Rockingham on July 9 with his wife, Debbie, and 13-year-old son, Will, after a week-long baseball tournament in Virginia Beach, Va. A GMC Envoy heading north in the southbound lanes of U.S. 1 near the Hawkins Avenue bridge slammed head-on into the Spears' Chevrolet Suburban at 65 mph, authorities said.

"Everything happened very quickly," Debbie Spears said. "In my heart, it felt like it was bad."

Dazed and injured, she and her son were able to climb out of a shattered window as the mangled Suburban sat in the grass on the shoulder of the highway. The SUV then erupted into flames, trapping David Spears inside.

David Spears and the GMC's driver, Joyce Lorraine Tubbs, 63, of Wake Forest, died at the scene.

"I was determined at that point to remain calm for my son," Debbie Spears said. "(David) would not want me to be the sad mom who is so caught up up in this tragedy that I could not live for these children."

State Highway Patrol troopers said that believe Tubbs was unfamiliar with the area and might have been confused by the U.S. 1 access signs.

"I wanted to know what happened. I wanted to know what were the circumstances," Debbie Spears said of her family's wreck. "There's no bitterness."

Debbie and David Spears Woman not bitter about fiery Sanford wreck that killed husband

Two other fatal wrecks involving wrong-way drivers have occurred on U.S. 1 in Sanford in the last three years.

In September 2008, Janie Mabe Hardy, 80, of Sanford, was driving north in the southbound lanes of U.S. 1 near the U.S. 421 Bypass. In May 2010, Josh Britt, 17, and Anthony Boswell, 48, both of Sanford, died in a head-on collision on northbound U.S. 1 near Wicker Street. Police said Boswell was drunk and driving in the wrong way.

The state Department of Transportation began reviewing the highway a year ago for possible improvements to prevent such head-on collisions, but no changes have been made. A DOT spokesman said Monday that the agency is waiting to hear from the regional engineer's office on a new evaluation and whether changes must be made to signs.


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  • brentf777 Jul 19, 2011

    I also live in Sanford and have to agree with the others who have said there is nothing wrong with the signs as they are currently. They are not confusing. The cluster of accidents in this case seems to be random. I don't know what else they could do to make WRONG WAY more clear except use extra large type or maybe a billboard.

  • ohonda95 Jul 19, 2011

    I agree with you wmparker04, I live in the area and there is nothing wrong with the road it is the drivers.... The previous deaths were caused by a drunk driver and someone that was obviously too old to be driving!! I do pray for the families that have lost loved ones due to someone not paying attention... There are plenty of signs saying Do Not Enter and Wrong Way...

  • wmparker04 Jul 19, 2011

    there is nothing wrong with roads, people just dont pay attention, 6 to 8 red signs reading do not enter, wrong way...

  • prophetdavis08 Jul 19, 2011

    This is so very sad, I am praying for her and the children!

  • Snookyone Jul 19, 2011

    My family narrowly missed having the same type accident on a divided section of US-1. Since then I try to travel in the right lane and only use the left for passing and with good sight distance. I think the wrong-direction driver thought he was on a single-lane highway.

  • sidecutter Jul 19, 2011

    The turn lanes the DOT installed on US1 can be confusing. Instead of left turns you must make a right and the a u-turn. Takes some getting used to but is very difficult if you are impaired or have a diminished capacity.

  • airbornemonty Jul 19, 2011

    It seems to me that if other wrong way accidents have occurred before on U.S.1, there has to be a reason. Could there be something wrong the directional signs?

    The North Carolins Department of Transportation should have been on the alert after the first accident. To pretend action now might be a little late for the accident victims.

  • Mr. D3 Jul 19, 2011

    Unfortunately wrong way drivers are not that uncommon, but usually these drivers are under the influence of alcohol. In this case it was someone who just didn't pay enough attention to her surroundings and made a very big mistake that cost her life and the life of a good father and husband.

  • ConcernedNCC Jul 19, 2011

    It's unbelievable that the moderator didn't post my last comment on whether the woman going against traffic had any reason to be behind a wheel. No vulgarity, just statements as to why she didn't notice that she was on the LEFT side or that traffic was heading the other way...

  • Wendellcatlover Jul 19, 2011

    I think he would be proud of the attitude Debbie has taken (to be strong for her child/ren). My prayers are with you and your family and friends.