Week of wrecks leaves 15 people dead

Posted December 13, 2009
Updated December 22, 2009

— The state Highway Patrol said at least 15 people have been killed over the last week on North Carolina roads. The most recent deaths occurred overnight Saturday when three people were killed in two separate wrecks in Wake County.

Wake Forest police said that Robert Ernesto Harris, 37, of Franklin County, died in a three-vehicle wreck on U.S. Highway 1, south of the N.C. Highway 98 Bypass in Wake Forest, around 3 a.m.

Meanwhile, Justin Christopher Thomas Dufur, 20, and Bryan William Meyer, 23, both of Raleigh, died in a single-vehicle wreck on Pinecrest Road, at Country Trail, in Raleigh.

A passerby reported a vehicle off the roadway around 7:45 a.m., but Raleigh police said they believe the wreck happened a couple hours earlier. Homeowners told police they heard a loud noise overnight.

The wreck report says that Dufur lost control of a 2006 Subaru car while going south on Pinecrest. The car spun out and went off the right side of the road. When the wheels hit the curb, the car began to roll over. It slide sideways down a hill, with only two tires touching the ground, and struck a tree with its roof. The car hit another tree, knocking it over, then rotated around that tree. It came to rest on its side, facing north.

The wreck report says the Subaru was going 60 mph in a 45 mph zone.

Investigations into both the Wake Forest and Raleigh wrecks are continuing. No charges have been filed in either one.

Authorities investigate series of fatal wrecks Authorities investigate series of fatal wrecks

Over the last week, at least 15 people across the state have died in car crashes.

"That's unbelievable. It’s such a tragedy anytime, especially with the holidays coming up,” Trooper M.P. Cape said.

Among the deaths was Gary McLamb, 59, who was killed when he ran off the road Saturday night while coming around a sharp curve in the 9000 block of Strickland's Crossroads Road, near Interstate 40, south of Benson.

In Carrboro, Melinda Grossman, 60, was killed Saturday afternoon after she stopped her car along Jones Ferry Road, near Ferguson Road, after another driver hit a cat. As she bent over to help the cat, a third car hit and killed her.

In Hope Mills, four people died from injuries sustained in a head-on collision Thursday night.

Police said Brooke Paquin was riding with Tristan Hanna when his car crossed the center line on Hope Mills Road and hit an SUV carrying a family of three. Hanna, 26, was killed. Paquin, 32, died at the hospital.

The driver of the SUV, Hien Truong, and his 11-month-old child, Hanna, were also killed.

In Knightdale, passenger Gavin Boyd Westover, 16, died Tuesday morning after being injured in wreck Monday on Puryear Road.

In Durham, siblings – Calvin Brandon, 9, and Hassan Bingham, 6, both of Durham – died when their mother's Ford Explorer was hit by a train near the intersection of Ellis Road and Angier Avenue early Wednesday evening.

Though all the wrecks were different, Cape said drivers need to obey the speed limit and pay attention.

"Everybody just needs to slow down. One or two minutes on the travel, as far as getting to a restaurant or wherever you're going, it isn't going to make or break your whole day,” Cape said. “But if you get into a wreck and hurt yourself or hurt somebody else, you just can't make it up. You can't recover from that."


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  • james27613 Dec 14, 2009

    Add antilock brakes, adaptive steering and air bags to the list
    that people believe will make up for their poor driving.

    You can't break the laws of Physics.

  • nandud Dec 14, 2009

    "Over an animal? What a waste. DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT"

    "I am not sure how you expected this comment-it's possible something was lost in translation.

    I agree it was a waste of a life. It's a shame the world lost this woman, whom obviously had much compassion for all living things. So sad."

    Well said, App7689. Years ago when I was driving my then 16-year-old to take her SATs in Raleigh, a juvenile Mourning Dove was hopping across Spring Forest Road. My daughter sat there in our car and yelled at the bird to get out of the way. She wanted to get out of the car on a four-lane roadway to save the bird and I would not let her. Of course, the bird was smashed to bits in front of our eyes and she cried all the way to the test. I can totally see her stopping as this lady did to help one of God's creatures. I am so sorry this lady was killed. It is a waste of life, but it is also a waste of life for a person to live on this Earth who has no compassion towards animals.

  • sarahkatherinemcintee Dec 14, 2009

    ON Sunday morning, on my way to church, using Chapel Hill Rd, a car going in the opposite direction went over into my lane heading straight for me. I quickly pulled off the road and I was lucky that there was a place to do that. Otherwise it would have been a choice between a head on collision and being in a ditch.

    I do not know why this person went over into my lane, but it certainly was horrible, no matter what the reason.

    I am wondering if these cold gray days are affecting people's attentiveness, in addition to the pre-holiday scurrying about.

  • familyfour Dec 14, 2009

    I am truly surprised there aren't more.....

    I had a beemer nosing my tail this the fog....and he passed....couldn't see squat....I poked right on into work (55) and got there safe and sound....

    People just do not choose to be safe.

  • LocalYokel Dec 14, 2009

    bad drivers cause a lot of grief. If your a bad driver, do not use our public roads where you could seriously injure or kill yourself and others. If your a bad driver and you drive on our public roads I want you caught and prosecuted to the fullest capability of the law. Bad driving is a serious crime.

  • time4real Dec 14, 2009

    i wish they'd take all you important people's cell phones away. for good!

  • App7689 Dec 14, 2009

    "Over an animal? What a waste. DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT"

    I am not sure how you expected this comment-it's possible something was lost in translation.

    I agree it was a waste of a life. It's a shame the world lost this woman, whom obviously had much compassion for all living things. So sad.

  • scientistjo Dec 14, 2009

    Stay off your cell phones and just drive!

  • leo-nc Dec 14, 2009

    18 now...

  • Kristen168 Dec 14, 2009

    Half the drivers who have moved into this state don't know it's the law to turn on lights in fog in NC, plus road improvements don't keep up with the population growth, plus there's no highway patrol. When they finally do something, corners are cut, making exit ramps shorter and at a much sharper curve, thus very, very dangerous as cars are exiting very fast off freeways with many tailgaters right behind. All the cell phones, GPS devices and distractions contribute to general inattentiveness which makes being in a motor vehicle a roll of the dice as to whether you will get to your destination alive or not. This is what happens when we entice everybody from around the world move here because the Mayor and his minions give the green light to developers to make this area highly populated.