Local News

Troopers say road rage may have played role in crash that killed toddler

Posted August 7

— State Highway Patrol troopers said Monday that they are investigating whether road rage was a factor in a crash in Franklin County last week that killed a toddler.

Troopers said a Volkswagen and a Nissan were both southbound on U.S. Highway 401 near N.C. Highway 56 on Friday morning, with the Nissan in a right-turn-only lane. The Nissan continued south on U.S. 401 after the turn lane ended, and the car collided with the Volkswagen as the Nissan's driver tried to cut into the southbound lane, authorities said.

The collision forced the Volkswagen to cross the center line and hit a northbound Honda, authorities said, and the Volkswagen then continued across the highway, overturning in a creek along the side of the road.

Michelle "Mimi" Zavala, 22 months old, of Louisburg, a passenger in the Volkswagen, died Saturday of injuries from the crash.

A memorial that includes LEGOs, bananas and juice – all items Mimi loved, according to her family – has sprung up along the side of U.S. 401. Her father stopped by the memorial Monday morning to say a prayer and water some freshly planted flowers that sit next to a cross, but he was too emotional to speak.

The Volkswagen's driver, Samar Ferd Jurdi, 20, of Raleigh, and three other passengers, Ryan Zavala, 14, of Louisburg, Rami Eleitar, 9, of Raleigh, and Kathaleen Maldanado, 4, of Louisburg, were all taken to WakeMed in Raleigh with serious injuries, authorities said.

Troopers didn't provide information about the relationship between Jurdi and her four passengers.

The driver of the Honda, Anna Williams Collier, 46, of Louisburg, also was taken to WakeMed with serious injuries, including shattered hips and broken bones, while the driver of the Nissan, Chastity Calandra Stamper, 37, of Hollister, wasn't injured.

Troopers said Jurdi and Stamper might have been arguing before the collision.

Jurdi has already been charged with driving while impaired – she admitted to troopers that she had smoked marijuana before getting behind the wheel – and driving without a license. Authorities said she and Stamper could face other charges.


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  • Marie Brandsdorfer Aug 8, 2:39 p.m.
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    Such a senseless act that caused the death of a baby! Praying for her family that have to deal with this tragedy for the rest of their lives.

  • Wayne R. Douglas Aug 7, 6:50 p.m.
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    "could face other charges"? How about SHOULD face other charges? Their anger caused this, from start to finish.

  • Clarence Drumgoole Aug 7, 6:15 p.m.
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    If true, neither should be allowed to drive again.

  • Clarence Drumgoole Aug 7, 6:15 p.m.
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    If true, neither should be allowed to drive again.