Troopers, Sheriff Probing Fatal Farm Pond Wreck
Posted April 10, 2008 5:28 p.m. EDT
Updated April 10, 2008 10:03 p.m. EDT
Wade, N.C. — State and local authorities on Thursday began looking into a Tuesday morning wreck in which two people died after a car flipped into a farm pond in Cumberland County.
Stephen Andreas Loweke, 24, of Eastover, and Robyn Lynn Cockrell, 22, of Wake Forest, were found dead in about 15 feet of water. The pond was on private property about 500 yards off U.S. Highway 13 east of Interstate 95.
The couple, who had a 2-year-old son and planned to marry, were out with a friend to celebrate Cockrell's 22nd birthday and were joyriding in a field when Cockrell's Honda Accord went down a steep embankment into the pond, according to authorities and relatives.
The friend, Timothy Scott Letbetter, 23, of Wade, told authorities he jumped from the back seat as the car hit the water. He said the car sank too quickly for him to save his friends, so he ran about five miles to his home to call for help.
Letbetter told investigators Loweke was driving and that the crash happened between 3:15 and 3:45 a.m. His 911 call was made at 4:59 a.m.
Cockrell's family questioned Letbetter's account of the wreck.
"I would like to know why he didn't get help sooner," said her grandmother, Mary Cockrell. “I would like to know if he had a chance to get her out of that car.”
Letbetter couldn't be reached for comment Thursday, and Mary Cockrell said her family hasn't been able to reach him either.
"Please tell us what happened. Please let us know, " she said.
Authorities said Letbetter isn't a suspect in the investigation, but they want to question him further because he is the lone witness to the wreck and to determine whether any criminal charges are warranted.
A background check shows he was found guilty of drunken driving in 2004. He also has been charged in the past with reckless driving, underage drinking and driving and eluding arrest with a motor vehicle.
State Highway Patrol investigators and a Cumberland County Sheriff's Office detective returned to the scene of the wreck Thursday. They found open beer containers in the car, and a helicopter took aerial photographs of the field and pond.