Local News

Teen Charged in Crash That Killed Girlfriend

Posted March 3, 2008 7:22 a.m. EST
Updated March 3, 2008 6:40 p.m. EST

— The Johnston County District Attorney's office Monday decided to charge a 17-year-old driver in the death of his 15-year-old girlfriend.

Dennis Olden McLamb, 17, of Four Oaks, faces one charge of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, 1st Sgt. Glen Stokes, with the state Highway Patrol, said. He was also charged with exceeding a safe speed and a child restraint violation.

Neither teenager was wearing a seat-belt, troopers said.

Johnston County prosecutors decided to file the charges after troopers presented evidence to them.

McLamb was driving girlfriend Taylor Renee Penny, 15, of Lillington, back from a friend's 18th birthday party around 8:30 p.m Saturday and lost control of the vehicle while rounding 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.

Penny was ejected from the pickup when it struck a ditch. The truck then flipped twice and landed on top of her.

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 an 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 the truck 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.