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Teen charged in fatal Johnston crash

Posted November 12, 2013

Tom and Carol Dehlinger were killed in a Nov. 10, 2013, collision near Clayton.
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— A Smithfield teenager was charged Tuesday with two counts of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle in a weekend collision that killed a Johnston County couple.

Erica Stone, 18, was initially charged with reckless driving in the Sunday morning crash on Covered Bridge Road, just east of the Archers Lodge community near Clayton.

State Highway Patrol troopers said Stone crossed the center line and collided with a car occupied by Thomas and Carol Dehlinger and their granddaughter.

The Dehlingers, both 64, died from their injuries, but their granddaughter was unhurt. Stone suffered minor injuries.

Troopers said speed might have been a factor in the crash.

Neighbors described the Dehlingers as trustworthy and having big hearts.

"When we moved in, the first faces we saw was Tom and Carol. So, they were very friendly, very welcoming," Neil Penley said. "Carol, despite having had health problems of her own, having recently had some surgery, she actually brought soup over to my wife to get well."

Tom Dehlinger, Carol Dehlinger Johnston couple remembered as loving caregivers

"Mr. Tom was 'George Wilson,'" a neighbor who identified herself only as Wanda said, referring to the character from the "Dennis the Menace" comic strip. "He fussed, but he got it done. He went above and beyond as a neighbor."

The couple had custody of their granddaughter, Penley said.

"It's very disheartening. Tom and Carol were all she knew. They were very good caregivers," he said.

The girl is now in the care of the Dehlingers' minister, neighbors said.

8 Comments

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  • Xiaoding Nov 13, 2:55 p.m.

    "Let those teens keep driving at these early ages and watch them keep dying."

    Since when is 18 an early age? That's a grownup!

  • frosty Nov 13, 12:46 p.m.

    Maybe in addition to graduated licenses, there should be limits on the size and type of car they are allowed to drive. Mopeds for consistent DUI drives, Fiat 500s (or the equivalent)for beginning drivers.

  • WralCensorsAreBias Nov 13, 11:13 a.m.

    Let those teens keep driving at these early ages and watch them keep dying. It's really that simple. Change the laws to match everything else they can't do until they are 21 and maybe a few more won't die.

  • LocalYokel Nov 13, 10:54 a.m.

    If you don't take your driving responsibilities seriously or you are unwilling to obey vehicle safety laws then, please, do us a favor and turn in your drivers license.

  • EricaSliver Nov 13, 8:34 a.m.

    So sad for that little girl...I hope the rest of her life is filled with happiness. She has been through a lot.

  • Country Girlz Have MORE fun Nov 13, 8:17 a.m.

    Prayers from your Archers Lodge Neighbors

  • jackaroe123 Nov 12, 6:52 p.m.

    How sad. The granddaughter is going to need a lot of support. I'm glad to hear she is w/ her grandparents' minister. I can't think of a stronger type of person for a situation like this.

  • mcraineycrazies Nov 12, 6:30 p.m.

    this is just so sad, and they had custody, how sad