Teen charged in fatal Johnston crash
Posted November 12, 2013
Clayton, N.C. — 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."
"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.