Man dies in crash, fall to Tar River

Posted January 7, 2010 2:27 p.m. EST
Updated January 7, 2010 11:06 p.m. EST

— Two wrecks on the U.S. Highway 64 Bypass bridge near Tarboro Thursday afternoon left one car damaged and another in the Tar River.

Authorities said the driver of a white Suburban veered off the road, over-corrected and hit the guardrail, flipping his truck down the embankment and into the water. The driver, 57-year-old Jimmie Keel, died in the crash, according to the state Highway Patrol. He was the only person in the car, investigators said.

The Tarboro Fire Department and Edgecombe County Sheriff's Office put rescue crews into the water shortly after the 1 p.m. wreck happened, and they recovered Keel's body at about 3 p.m.

The wreck happened between mile markers 485 and 486, according to the state Highway Patrol. Investigators closed one of two eastbound lanes while they cleared the scene, backing up traffic in the area.

View Tarboro wreck in a larger map

At about the same time, a red car was involved in a wreck on the bridge that crushed its front bumper. A tow truck removed the car. Authorities have not said if anyone was injured in that wreck but did say it was unconnected to the fatal wreck of the Suburban.

Friends remember Keel

For Bud Woolard, who owns the Classic Diner in downtown Tarboro, Keel's death was like losing a family member.

"We heard about it and we just sat around here and hung our heads down. It is terrible," Woolard said.

Janie Robbins, of Tarboro, described Keel as a nice guy.

"Jimmie was there to help. It's just a tragic loss. It's hard to put into words what it means to us," Robbins said.

Keel, an attorney from Tarboro, is survived by his wife and two children.