Local News

Wrecks claim lives of two high schoolers

Posted May 15, 2010 10:58 a.m. EDT
Updated May 16, 2010 2:17 p.m. EDT

— Separate wrecks claimed the lives of teenagers from Johnston and Lee counties, bringing to nine the number of high schoolers who have died in traffic wrecks in less than two months.

Lee County High School junior Josh Britt, 17, died in a head-on collision on U.S. Highway 1 North, near Wicker Street, in Sanford around 11 p.m. State troopers said the car that Britt crashed into was stopped in the northbound lanes, faced south and had its lights off.

“Just senseless, it was something that he had no chance. He ran up on a dark car on a dark night and had no chance to avoid it," Joe Needham, Britt's uncle, said. "It's just a senseless thing for a car to be there.”

The driver of the other vehicle, Anthony Boswell, 48, of Sanford, also died, troopers said. Authorities said they are still trying to figure out why Boswell’s car was stopped in the road.

An early morning wreck Saturday claimed the life of West Johnston High senior Ariel Hughes, troopers said.

Hughes, 17, was riding in a car driven by Shantoya Howard, 17, of Willow Springs, in the 8400 block of White Oak Road when it ran off the road and hit a tree. In the wreck report, Howard said she swerved to avoid a deer, but troopers could not confirm that.

Hughes, who wasn't wearing a seat belt, died, troopers said. Howard was transported to WakeMed, where she was in good condition late Saturday, a nursing supervisor said.

Dozens of Britt's friends gathered Saturday night at New Hope Baptist Church in Sanford to remember him.

“Josh was a treat. He was a joy to everyone. He loved his family, his friends. He made everyone laugh," Needham said.

Lee County High Principal Greg Batten said that Britt was a popular student and played as the middle linebacker on the varsity football team.

"This is a tragedy for the LCHS community," Batten said.

Grief counselors will be available at Lee County High starting Monday to assist students and staff, he said.

Britt's family said his funeral will be held Wednesday afternoon at New Hope Baptist.

Seven other local high schoolers have died in traffic wrecks in less than two months.

Recent wrecks also claimed the lives of West Johnston High School senior Christopher Paul Kosmos, 18, and junior Alissa Chenette, 16, on March 29; Western Harnett High School sophomore Elizabeth Ann Harris, 16, on April 19; Hoke County High School seniors Kaleb Valliant, 18, and Thadius Markle, 18, on April 24; South Johnston High School sophomore Jessee Ferrell, 16, on April 28; and Southern Nash High School junior Michael Turner Jr., 17, on May 1.

In the past four years, more than 680 teenagers have been killed in wrecks that the state Highway Patrol investigated.