Local News

'Violent' wreck kills five in Harnett County

Two sisters and three men died when their car ran a stop sign and hit a tanker truck in Dunn Friday night, the state Highway Patrol said.

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DUNN, N.C. — A sedan ran a stop sign and set off a wreck, involving a tanker truck and station wagon, that killed five people in Dunn Friday night, the state Highway Patrol said.

A black Honda Accord ran a stop sign at Bailey Crossroads/Fairground Road and N.C. Highway 27 around 11 p.m., Trooper Gregg Steffens said. A tanker truck going west on N.C. 27 ran over the Accord and hit a station wagon going east on the highway.

Three men and two sisters in the Honda died, troopers said.

"The truck actually went on top of the vehicles," Steffens said. "It's hard to survive a collision this violent."

Troopers said Honda driver Esteban Isidro, 22, was from Raleigh, and passenger Jorge Gallardo, 23, was from Mexico. Passengers Norma Martinez, 15; Ashley Martinez, 17, who was pregnant and engaged to be married; and Germain Chavez, 25, were from Angier. 

"It’s going to be hard. God knows, I couldn't imagine,” said Deborah Higgins, a friend of the mother of the Martinez girls.

Higgins said her friend, Maria Martinez, lost her only daughters in the wreck.

"Beautiful. They were young, smart; they were going places,” Higgins said, of Norma and Ashley Martinez.

Higgins said the girls had left home just 15 minutes before the crash.

“That's the hardest thing that we do, having to wake someone up in the middle of the night out of a straight sleep and explain to them that one of their loved ones is not coming home," said Sgt. Tim Baldwin, with the state Highway Patrol.

Baldwin said that he does not believe alcohol was involved and that there are no indications of speeding.

"It's just a bad tragedy, but we've seen so many tragedies at this intersection,” Bobbie Wood said.

Wood said that she heard the crash and that neighbors have sent petitions trying to get a caution light installed at the intersection.

"When you are at the intersection, you cannot see over the hill,” Wood said.

Baldwin said it is difficult to know if a caution light could have made a difference in this case.

"We just don't know, and I don't think we ever will, because we can't speak to anyone in the car,” he said.

The driver of the station wagon, Kimberly Jones, 18, of 225 Adams Road, was transported to Betsy Johnson Regional Hospital. Jones was listed in good condition Saturday evening.

The tanker driver, Ronnie Vanatta Jr., of Pikeville, was treated at the scene.