Local News

3 Wendell Residents Die in Johnston Wreck

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SMITHFIELD — A rural area of northwest Johnston County was the site of a fatal crash involving three Wendell men on Sunday afternoon.

The one-car wreck occurred about 3:30 p.m. on NC 231 near Baptist Tabernacle Church.

Troopers at the scene said none of the people in the car were wearing seatbelts. The victims have been identified as 30-year-old William Freeman, 19-year-old Eric O'Neil and 18-year-old Brandon House, all of Wendell. Officers said the victims were in a rented Ford Explorer, which had been doing approximately 100 mph.

Eyewitnesses says the driver apparently lost control around a curve, and never recovered.

"He was going real fast, swerving back and forth," said Brandon Capps, an eyewitness who was playing basketball with some friends. "We thought he was going to come to us so we all tried to get out of the way. He went across the center line into the ditch, all the way down the road."

The driver lost control of the vehicle and it plowed into a tree. Officers estimate the car was going 70 mph on impact.

The scene of the crash, with skid marks to serve as a reminder, is enough to for some teens to drive safely.

"I was thinking, when I get my car, I ain't going fast or nothing," said Duane Hansley, an eyewitness to the crash. "It makes you think a whole lot about the stupid things you've done in the past."