Alcohol, speed factors in fatal Johnston crash
Authorities say alcohol and speed were factors in an early-morning wreck Saturday in Johnston County that killed William Lee Tippett, 18, of Garner and sent two other teens to a local hospital.Posted — Updated
William Lee Tippett, 18, of Garner, was thrown from a Ford Ranger pickup truck that he was riding in shortly after 3 a.m., when the crash occurred on westbound Josephine Road, just south of Clayton.
David Finch, a trooper with North Carolina Highway Patrol, said Bryan Davis Gilmore, 17, of Smithfield, was going approximately 85 mph in a 45 mph speed zone when he lost control of the truck on a curve and went off the road, flipping the vehicle several times.
Tippett, he said, was not wearing his seat belt.
"(The truck was) totally demolished, upside down on its roof," Finch said. "The impact of the truck as so great it actually ripped the stereo out of the dashboard."
Gilmore and another passenger, Joseph Brewer, 16, of Clayton, were taken to WakeMed in Raleigh and were later released.
Gilmore faces charges of driving while impaired, reckless driving and being impaired under age.
Finch said more charges are possible.
The three The Highway Patrol is working with the state Alcohol Law Enforcement to investigate how the teens got alcohol.
Tippett was a senior at Cleveland High School, where Gilmore and Brewer also attend, according to family and friends.
Shay Hartklopf knew Tippett since middle school.
"He had the best personality. He always knew how to make somebody laugh," she said. "It's heartbreaking. School is really going to stink tomorrow. It's really not going to be the same without him."
Cleveland High parents say they hope his death serves as a wake-up call.
"There's got to be something where we can stop these kids from doing what they're doing," parent Kelly Hartklopf said. "I'm heartbroken these kids are dying."