Local News

Mock Accident Upstaged by Real Wreck

Posted March 20, 2008 1:43 p.m. EDT
Updated March 22, 2008 7:26 p.m. EDT

— Two Princeton High School students were injured in a Thursday morning wreck as students at another high school gathered for a mock drill designed to discourage drinking and driving.

A 1998 Chevrolet car was eastbound on U.S. Highway 70 Alternate near Country Store Road shortly before 9 a.m. when it ran off the road, said Trooper Anthony Carlton, of the state Highway Patrol. The driver, Christopher Massengill, 18, of Selma, over-corrected, and the car collided with a tractor-trailer as the car spun around, Carlton said.

The car was split in half by the wreck, but neither Massengill nor his passenger, Ashley Everman, 18, were seriously injured, Carlton said.

Massengill was transported to WakeMed, and Everman was taken to Johnston Memorial Hospital. Massengill was discharged Friday afternoon. Everman has also returned home from the hospital.

Truck driver Jackie Toler, of Kenly, who works for James Paul Edwards Trucking, was uninjured in the wreck, Carlton said.

The two students were heading to Princeton High after dropping Everman's child at a day-care center, said Crystal Roberts, spokeswoman for Johnston County Schools.

Meanwhile, troopers conducting a mock drill at West Johnston High School about the dangers of drinking and driving had to leave to respond to the wreck. School administrators announced to students that two of their peers had been involved in a wreck on the other side of the county.

"This significance (of the mock drill) is, obviously, they're able to see what we're talking about. They're able to see the tragedy," Trooper Michael Dorsey said.

Troopers had performed a similar presentation at Princeton High on Wednesday, Dorsey said.

"It is disheartening to the patrol, but the only thing we can do is continue to try to get our message across and, hopefully, eventually, these teenagers will get the point," he said.

Less than two weeks ago, Princeton High senior Katlyn Bell died in a crash on another rural road. Because Johnston County led the state in teen traffic fatalities last year, local authorities have been aggressively cracking down on unsafe driving.

State troopers, Johnston County deputies and local police officers planned to be out in force Thursday night, when most area high schools held their annual proms.

An initial investigation into Thursday's wreck determined speed was a factor, Carlton said, and charges were pending against Massengill.

U.S. 70 Alternate was blocked for about an hour after the wreck, but troopers were able to direct traffic around the wreckage.