Local News

Teen gets unexpected, but valuable, lesson in driving

Posted June 22

— A Johnston County teenager learned a lesson in driver's education this week that he says he will never forget.

Luke Upperman, 15, was in the back seat of a driver's ed car on Tuesday when a minivan crossed the center line of Glen Laurel Road in Clayton and hit the car head on.

"I wasn't really paying attention," Luke, who had already finished his driving that day when the crash occurred, said Thursday. "I just heard the driving instructor screaming, and then I just remember being in the ditch."

He suffered a sprained ankle and some bruises from his seat belt. The instructor also suffered minor injuries.

The student driver, Logan Hahn, 15, was pinned behind the steering wheel after the crash and was hospitalized for two days before being released Thursday.

"I knew right away I was fine, and everyone was saying that the driver had a broken arm, and it was pretty apparent," Luke said. "Some people came over to our car and were talking to the driver to try to keep him conscious."

Amy Upperman, Luke's mother, said she "almost lost it" when she saw the mangled driver's ed car.

"If not for that seatbelt who knows what would have happened," said John Upperman, Luke's father.

The Uppermans have three older children and said that driver's ed has never been a safety concern for them.

"I didn't even really think about it when he was gone," Amy Upperman said. "I definitely think it was a wake-up call and a learning experience."

Even though police determined the crash was the minivan driver's fault, Luke said he will learn from the experience.

"I'll just be more careful," he said.

"We need to wear our seatbelts, pay attention to our surroundings, not be distracted," Amy Upperman said.

"I'm just incredibly thankful, and we're all very blessed to have the outcome that we did," John Upperman said.

Johnston County Schools Superintendent David Ross Renfrow said in a statement that he is relieved everyone is recovering and praised Hahn for acting defensively and applying his brakes on impact.

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  • Rod Runner Jun 23, 1:04 p.m.
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    I'm going to assume it is cell phones these days, but I've seen more cars driving over the center line this year than in my previous 30 years of driving. I see 2 or 3 driving on Buffalo Rd in Johnston County almost everyday, and when I'm headed right for them. I bet I didn't see 2 or 3 a year early on in my driving experience.

    I drove past one lady the other day that had just corrected (almost overcorrected) after crossing the yellow line approaching me and as I passed her, she was still staring out the window to the left of her. No idea why.