Local News

Suspected impaired driver kills two motorcyclists in Harnett

Posted June 19, 2011
Updated June 22, 2011

— A driver, who state troopers believe was impaired and playing with an iPod, struck and killed a couple riding a motorcycle south of Dunn early Sunday.

A white Chevy pickup truck driven by Samuel Alan Brown II crossed the center line while traveling north on N.C. Highway 82, near the Averasboro Civil War Battleground, around 12:20 a.m., troopers said. The vehicle struck a southbound motorcycle, tossing both the driver and passenger from it.

The driver, Christopher Smith, and passenger, Ashli M. Armstrong, 20, of Dunn, died of their injuries. 

Smith leaves behind two children, a 5-year-old boy and 2-year-old girl. Armstrong was a volunteer with Dunn Emergency Services for more than a year, Chief Austin Tew said.

Ashli Armstrong, Christopher Smith Driver charged in Harnett wreck that killed couple

"You never know when you roll up on a scene if it's going to be somebody you know, and in this case, it's family," Tew said. "That makes a difference."

Tim Bezgela, Smith's friend who was riding his own motorcycle alongside the couple, saw the crash.

"It was terrible," he said. "There was nothing anybody could have done."

Brown, 25, of 731 Ebenezer Church Road in Coats, was charged with two counts of felony death by motor vehicle, driving while impaired, driving left of center and careless and reckless driving. He was being held in the Harnett County jail Sunday under a $100,000 bond. 


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  • NCpetalpusher Jun 30, 2011

    To the seminolesfan57..did you forget that Chris and Ashli were the VICTIMS??? Have you been to the crash site?? yes, it's a crash site not an accident scene. Mr. Brown didn't accidentally decide to drive his truck. He made a choice and his choice cost Chris and Ashli their young lives. I do not want to see him put in jail. I also do not want to see him walk away with a slap on the wrist. I honestly feel that prison is not the best place for everyone. We all know he has Gerald Hayes as his attorney. He's one of the best in Dunn to get you out of tickets but it will cost you. We know that they'll use anything negative they can find to make Chris and Ashli look bad. The only thing they did was share the road with a drunk driver and his ipod..look at where they are now. He didn't just cross the center line, Chris could have probably driven around and avoided the crash..he was in their lane. Get your facts verified before you go spreading rumors.

  • MudLife Jun 28, 2011

    Gator your right. That comment he posted ticked me off to. If the trooper even suspected speed it would have been proven by the distance of where Chris and Ash were found. The trooper would have discovered speed asap. But Chris didn't do anything wrong. It's still shocking to know their gone physically but here in spirit. It was nice of you guys to organize the bike ride. I got a girl i work with trying to get up with someone so i can get a shirt. Ash was a fun person and i'm glad i got the chance to know her and work with her. But as far as comments like seminolesfan57 that is uncalled for.

  • flygator Jun 28, 2011

    This is for seminolesfan57...

    What??? Obviously you weren't there so how can you make any judgement? I was there and there were guidelines we followed riding at night. 1) we always slowed down to the posted speed limit when there was traffic coming at us just in case it was law enforcement, 2) we have rode that same road at 185 mph and yes with her on the back, 3) the max you could take that curve was just over 100 mph which wasn't the case that night. We had a new rider behind us so we slowed our pace down quite a bit. As far as inexperience...Chris and I rode at least 4 nights a week on that same route for the last 1 1/2 years. Chris put more miles on his bikes in that period of time than most people ride in a lifetime. He had only been riding a couple of years but he rode hard and fast and was a great rider. Ashli was an exceptional passenger from the start and would fuss if Chris wouldn't take her with him. They died doing what they loved as much as I do...RIP Chris and As

  • seminolesfan57 Jun 27, 2011

    has anyone asked why the dude was running over 130 on that bike with the girl on the bike with him and why the guys riding wih him are covering that up?????? get your facts straight.

  • mdh20 Jun 23, 2011

    these were friends to me & my boyfriend, they will be greatly missed, i hope that boy that caused this has to pay. I'v lost 3 WONDERFUL friends due to acohol. The pain that this family feels is more than what he will EVER feel. His friends feel sorry for him b/c his life is ruined, but i dont feel sorry for him his life may be ruined, but Chris & Ashli's was TAKEN. They are the reason i EVER rode on my boyfriends bike, i was scared bc i lost a friend last year from a bike wreck, & Ashli got the call on EMS to it, & she told me to hop on & just ride, she wanted me to go so she wouldnt be the only girl (: i remember the last time i seen her, we all went riding on the motorcycles & it started raining & we split, but she made sure she waved by to me as they took off. Chris & Ashli loved each other TREMENDOUSLY, & they were such wonderful people. God def. has some BEAUTIFUL angels in heaven. RIP CHRIS & ASHLI

  • MudLife Jun 22, 2011

    if anyone was still following this story the Dunn Daily Record had an article in yesterdays paper.... they lowered his bond to $50,000 because he was a "college graduate (NC State, worked in the poultry dept.) and a good person who has never been in trouble". That shouldn't matter he killed to good people. If he was a college graduate then he should have had common sense to not drive.

  • MudLife Jun 20, 2011

    I used to volunteer with Ashli at Dunn Emergency Services. She was going to school to become a flight nurse and was currently working as a CNA. I met Chris once when he stopped by to see her at the station. It's saddening to know that their gone. He leaves behind 2 kids 2 and 5 and their never gonna see their dad again and their mom has to explain to them someday why.
    I hope the drunk driver gets the worst punishment imaginable. He could've prevented this accident by not driving and calling a friend or a cab. Now 2 innocent young lives are gone. It's scary rolling up on the scene of an accident and finding someone you know...family, friends, and in this case she was family. RIP Ashli and Chris and i hope for yall and every other person out there that he is never allowed behind the wheel to do this again. The both of you will be greatly missed. :(

  • coleenhop Jun 20, 2011

    As the daughter of a drunk driving victim, I have no sympathy for the driver of the truck. Drunk driving is not an involuntary reaction. It is a choice. And there should be harsh consequences. I nor anyone else should have to bury their loved one because of your poor choice.

  • RainierBeer Jun 20, 2011

    Terrible tragedy. Too bad drunk driving isn't met with tougher penalties, in this case felony death should include the death penalty. But in NC the punishment is soft.

  • m121755 Jun 20, 2011

    Such a tragedy!!!! Riding a motorcycle on a hot summer day without a care in the world and then a horriffic, tragic ending. I pray that their families find comfort somehow. And Tim, the friend that was riding with them, please find the strength to carry on as they would have wanted you to. my thoughts and prayers are with you.
    Please do not drink and drive people!!!!!!!!
    Motorcycles are everywhere be alert&save a life by taking responsibility!!!