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Patrol rules out blown tire as cause of fatal I-40 wreck

Posted November 21, 2011

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— A blown tire didn't cause a head-on collision on Interstate 40 in Johnston County last week that killed a Smithfield couple, North Carolina State Highway Patrol investigators said Monday.

Terri Lynn Reeves, 20, and Joshua James Witherspoon, 22, died Thursday night when their eastbound 2006 Mitsubishi Eclipse crossed the I-40 median near the N.C. Highway 42 interchange and hit a westbound 2005 BMW X5 SUV and 2005 Lexus.

Their daughter, Shelby Faith Witherspoon, was trapped in her car seat in the back of the Mitsubishi for 20 to 30 minutes. She was listed in fair condition Monday at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill.

Reeves' brother said Friday that he feared a temporary spare tire on the Mitsubishi had blown out, causing her to lose control of the car.

Investigators found that all four tires on the car were intact and inflated, said First Sgt. Jeff Gordon, spokesman for the Highway Patrol.

Troopers also ruled out alcohol and excessive speeds as possible causes of the wreck and continue to investigate to determine what happened.

The funerals for Reeves and Witherspoon are scheduled for 8 p.m. Monday at Friendly Chapel Pentecostal Freewill Baptist Church in Benson. Burial will be Tuesday at Fellowship Community Cemetery in Angier.

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  • storchheim Nov 22, 2011

    "No reason to speculate on what happen, it won't bring anyone back."

    "If you look at their facebook page it shows a pic of her texting and driving like it was supposed to be funny. Now, I'm not a detective, but I wouldn't rule that one out."

    That crossed my mind too. No alcohol, no speed, no blown tire; if she wasn't tailgating or something similarly aggressive and dangerous, or texting/dialing/talking, how did this happen? Hope they check her cell phone records.

    Rebelyell55, this accident didn't just affect those who crossed the median. Three other people were hurt too and could have been killed. I gently suggest that we do have every right to speculate on what happened.

  • angelginny Nov 21, 2011

    Maybe Terri was tending to baby. Turned to do whatever she needed in the back seat and was across the median and out of control don't take long for that to happen. I know you are supposed to pull over and also that Joshua was there also but sometimes things happen really fast and you just react as you see fit too. I hope Shelby continues to recover.

  • jayjohengen Nov 21, 2011

    If you look at their facebook page it shows a pic of her texting and driving like it was supposed to be funny. Now, I'm not a detective, but I wouldn't rule that one out.

  • Rebelyell55 Nov 21, 2011

    No reason to speculate on what happen, it won't bring anyone back. Only the two who die knows what happen. Grief is hard, and sometime there just isn't any answers.

  • sjb2k1 Nov 21, 2011

    @trianglerelic
    when i first moved here i tried riding my bike to work. after nearly getting run over several times i gave up and drove.

  • haggis basher Nov 21, 2011

    "Aren't there walls on I40 at that point? I don't understand how the car crossed the median and managed to hit an oncoming car."

    There were wire barriers on what I saw on TV and yes it is weird that they could not stop a small car like that.......were they broken and not repaired from previous accident?

  • trianglerelic Nov 21, 2011

    The first thing I noticed about North Carolina when I moved here in 1996.. There are No Shoulders, and the lanes are not divided... I thought it was bizarre... Nowhere to pull off the road if you get a flat, or want to ride a bike... God forbid you blow a tire or slide on ice are you are almost guaranteed a ride into oncoming traffic.

  • bombayrunner Nov 21, 2011

    maybe they got into a fight?

  • harmstrong4 Nov 21, 2011

    I have seen several deer bodies on US 1 recently...could have been one ran out into the road.

  • Scubagirl Nov 21, 2011

    Such a sad story.....

    Folks PLEASE only use those little spare tires until you can get you 'real' tire fixed....AND DO IT SOON. Saving a little bit of money up front is NOT worth someones life!

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