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Concerns mount over fatal Cary intersection

Posted September 23, 2014
Updated September 24, 2014

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— After the death of a 15-year-old Panther Creek High School student who died from injuries sustained in a wreck last week, concerns mount over the intersection that claimed the teenager's life.

Laura Yost was in the passenger-side backseat of a Chevrolet Blazer when its driver turned left into the path of a dump truck at the intersection of N.C. Highway 55 and McCrimmon Parkway, where fellow students Tuesday left a memorial of balloons, flowers and notes. Yost was on her way to school when the wreck happened.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Yost family this morning," the Wake County Public School System said in a statement Tuesday morning. "School support teams and counselors at Panther Creek High School are working with students and staff today. The family asks that the public please respect their privacy and that of friends during this difficult time."

Yost was taken to Duke University Hospital, where she reportedly underwent surgery for her injuries.

"She was tough before the accident, and she was even tougher last week fighting for her life," said Emily Turgeon, who coached Yost who played for the Capital Area Soccer League.

Yost's teammates held a prayer vigil at the WRAL Soccer Field Tuesday evening. They also wore blue, Yost's favorite color, and released balloons in her honor.

Yost's 16-year-old brother, Ryan Yost, was also injured in the wreck but not seriously.

A wreck report showed that the driver, Spencer Saunders, rushed through a safety light and failed to yield the right of way. A spokesman for the Cary Police Department said investigators are consulting with the Wake County District Attorney's Office to determine whether to file charges.

Saunders, meanwhile, posted a note to Yost on his Twitter account Tuesday morning, reading, in part:

"This truly breaks my heart. I'm so sorry this happened, please forgive me. It should be me up there..not you. I am extremely lucky to have known such an amazing girl that never failed to make me smile."

Cary police have said the site of the collision is a very busy intersection, and according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, there have been 29 wrecks there – including seven others involving left-hand turns, but none of those have been fatal.

In 2009, a channelized right turn and u-turn lanes were created on McCrimmon Parkway to address traffic issues.

Laura Cove, Cary's director of transportation and facilities, said she has received calls from parents recently about the intersection. Most parents have suggested a protected left turn from N.C. Highway 55 onto McCrimmon Parkway, an option Cove said her department and the DOT are seriously considering.

Others, like Dave Honaker, are especially worried due to the intersection being near Panther Creek High School.

"Sometimes I drive through there when they're coming out of school and there is more traffic but I haven't noticed any increased erratic driving or anything of that nature," he said.

Visitation for Yost will be held on Friday at Apex Funeral Home from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. A funeral mass is set for Saturday at 10 a.m. at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Cary.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • AskWhy Sep 24, 2014

    29 accidents but none of them fatal. I really have to question exactly what the magic numbers must be before NC DOT agrees to fix an intersection. As a frequent user of See-Click-Fix, time and time again I read responses from DOT that "the number of incidents don't necessite a stop light...or a stop sign...or a roundabout.... Small comfort to families who are affected forever

  • Serendipity5 Sep 24, 2014

    There is a protected green arrow at this intersection for north bound traffic turning left onto McCrimmon that lasts for at least one minute at precisely the time the accident happened. I'm not sure about other times.

  • heelhawk Sep 24, 2014

    View quoted thread

    trying to use logic and reason will never work. Instead you should use falsehood to flame emotional appeal and call for a national speed limit of 12 mph ( of course this will not apply to any republican driving a gas guzzler as their rights aren't to be infringed upon. )

  • Kristin Byrne Sep 24, 2014
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    Traffic can only turn north from Good Hope Church Road. There aren't any cars going across 55 at that point. I suggest you pay more attention to the road.

    I drive this way every day for work. There's nothing wrong with 55. Most of the traffic is going under the speed limit due to the sheer amount of traffic on that stretch. The speed limit is just fine. If anything, make it a protected left turn during school hours.

  • Justin Case Sep 24, 2014
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    The speed limit is already too low on NC 55. This section of hwy is modernized and well laid our for safety. It is posted at 50 as it is and other nearby roads, i.e. Davis Dr., are posted at 55 and are much less 'safe'.

    It's not speed that kills, it's difference in speed that causes problems! Everybody going 60 down the road is safer than even one person going 45 in a pack going 55. If a driver is uncomfortable going at least the posted speed, do the majority of us a favor and drive a different, slower road.

  • busyb97 Sep 24, 2014

    It's not the intersections fault, if the drivers are making a turn when it is NOT safe to do so. Yes- having a green arrow at least part of the time, would make a lot of sense, especially during the school rush hour. But otherwise, the driver is ultimately responsible for making a safe left-hand turn.

    Not all intersections have a light, but you still have to make the same decision as to when you to turn. If it's a matter of inexperience, then perhaps the teens shouldn't be driving to and from school.

    It is terrible that this happened and it was something that could have been avoided.

  • Pepe Silvia Sep 24, 2014

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    You have no idea how much more dangerous that would be... first of all, all traffic needs to have the same speed limit, otherwise if everyone is going the speed limit there will be backups and wrecks when everyone is trying to get into the left lane to pass a truck in the right.

    Secondly, tickets for 1mph over?! Good grief. That is impractical, unreasonable, unenforceable AND would not have stopped this young man from making a poor and inexperienced judgement call and turning in front of an oncoming vehicle.

  • jwsawyer Sep 24, 2014

    How in the world would reducing the speed limit help. The kids will still try to beat the lights or either not pay attention to oncoming traffic. So they will still get hit and killed because many just will not wear their seat belts. What is with that?

  • Quid Malmborg Sep 24, 2014
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    Saunders was trying to beat a red light rather than slow down and wait. That's an example of impatience. No "assumption" made.

  • theysayirock Sep 24, 2014

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    You can only turn right (north) onto 55 from good hope church rd...