Local News

Fatigue Blamed in Durham Fatalities

Posted December 1, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— The state Highway Patrol says fatigue was the cause of a wreck on I-40 in Durham early Sunday morning that killed a woman and her teen-age son. Her husband, daughter and another son are in a local hospital.

Investigators said Rodney L. Pendleton, 34, of Goldsboro, had been driving six hours when he apparently fell asleep at the wheel. The family's 1995 Mercury ran off the right side of the road, colliding with a tractor-trailer that had been parked on the shoulder. The impact of the crash sheared off the car's roof.

Pendleton's wife, Susan, 32, and their son Anthony, 15, died in the crash. Their 12-year-old daughter Courtney was critically injured. He, his daughter and Jacob, his 5-year-old son, were taken to a local hospital. Jacob and Pendleton were reported in good condition.

Pendleton is an Air Force master sergeant stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro.

The wreck occurred near the Fayetteville Road exit from I-40 at about 3:30 Sunday morning. The family had left Waverly, Ohio, at 8 p.m.

The rig's driver, Harold Melton, 41, of Jacksonville, had stopped his truck to check on a car abandoned on the highway. He thought it belonged to someone he knew.

Officers said Melton would not be charged in the accident; it has not been determined if Pendleton will be charged.