Local News

12-Year-Old Girl, Horse Dead After Being Struck By Tractor-Trailer

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Jessica Ferrara
JOHNSTON COUNTY, N.C. — Authorities say a 12-year-old girl and a horse were killed in an accident in the Wilson's Mills area Thursday morning.

According to investigators, Jessica Ferrara, of Clayton, was riding the horse along the shoulder of Highway 70 near Swift Creek Road when the animal became spooked and ran onto the roadway.

"Apparently her horse dodged onto the roadway and/or ran into the roadway right in the path of a tractor-trailer," said Trooper J.R. Tew, of the N.C. Highway Patrol.

Troopers said the truck, driven by John Parker, of Concord, tried to swerve, but ended up striking the girl and the horse, killing them instantly.

Ferrera had been riding horses with another person, Richard Bridges, and were on their way to a nearby store, Bridges' stepson told authorities.

Bridges, who was not injured, but very distraught, was taken to Johnston Memorial Hospital. Parker also was not hurt.

Family members said Ferrera's passion was horses. She was also nursing a horse back to health.

"The only reason he had all this was for Jessica. I think it would be hard for him to look at it every day without her being here," said Carol Shaffery, Ferrera's cousin.

The Highway Patrol had to briefly close the road to traffic as troopers conducted their investigation. State troopers said Parker will not be charged in the accident.

Ferrera was a straight A student at Riverwood Middle and a member of the 4-H club. That group is raising money to help pay for her funeral. She was going to turn 13 years old on Sunday.

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