Local News

Teen Coming From Birthday Party Killed in Wreck

Posted March 2, 2008 8:38 a.m. EST
Updated March 3, 2008 6:47 a.m. EST

— A 15-year-old girl died in a single-car accident while traveling from a birthday party in Johnston County Saturday night, the state Highway Patrol said.

Dennis Olden McLamb, 17, of Four Oaks, was driving girlfriend Taylor Renee Penny, 15, of Lillington, back from a friend's 18th birthday party around 8:20 p.m., 1st Sgt. Glen Stokes said.

McLamb took a curve on Creek Bridge Road, halfway between Four Oaks and Newton Grove. The 1997 Ford pickup truck dropped onto the road's right shoulder, and McLamb over-corrected, Stokes said. The vehicle flipped twice.

Troopers transported Penny to Johnston Memorial Hospital, where she died.

Penny was a sophomore at Harnett Central High School. She was on the swim team and wanted to be a dentist.

"She made a lot of friends and she made and impact on a lot of lives. I know there'll be a gap in my life and a lot of young people, as well as older," Taylor's grandfather Johnny Douglas said.

McLamb suffered minor injuries.

Troopers estimated that McLamb was traveling at 65 mph when the accident happened. The speed limit was 55 mph.

Stokes said the driver's inexperience was the biggest factor in the accident, more so than speeding. Alcohol was not a factor, nor was it served at the birthday party, Stokes said.

"It's just a freak accident, one of those things that can never be explained,” Douglas said.

Neither teenager was wearing a seat-belt. Charges are pending against McLamb, troopers said.

Grief counselors will be available Monday for students at Harnett Central High School, officials said.