Local News

High school junior dies when SUV slams into Walmart

Posted June 4, 2010 11:23 a.m. EDT
Updated June 6, 2010 6:22 p.m. EDT

— A Triton High School junior died and another student was injured Friday morning after their SUV slammed into a Walmart store in Dunn, police said.

Police said Ashley Moore, 16, was killed in the crash, authorities said. The SUV driver, Triton High senior Dillon Tart, 18, was airlifted to WakeMed for treatment.  He was discharged from the hospital Sunday.

Witnesses told police that the teens were arguing in the SUV as they left the Murphy Gas station in the Walmart parking lot. The SUV accelerated and clipped two cars before flipping several times and hitting the front of the store.

"It sounded like a bomb had gone off. I heard glass breaking," said Ron Robinson, who was inside the store at the time.

Robinson said he immediately ran outside to help the teens trapped in the SUV.

"We got the door almost opened. We tried to keep (the boy's) neck stabilized. The girl, we couldn't get to her until they cut off the roof," he said. "I didn't think of anyone around me but those two people in the vehicle."

Sammi Locklear, the manager of the Murphy Gas station, said she heard Moore screaming as the SUV sped off across the parking lot.

"I thought a child was being abducted ... the screaming that I heard," Locklear said. "All I saw was the truck flipping in mid-air and then the impact of the building."

No one was in either of the vehicles in the parking lot that were hit, police said.

"It's just a miracle no one else was hit," said Capt. Jimmy Pope, of the Dunn Police Department. "We are extremely fortunate. This is a crowded Walmart."

The front of the Walmart, at 590 E. Jackson Blvd., was damaged, but the store remained open.

Police said they were investigating the case as a domestic situation or a medical condition as the cause of the wreck.

Investigators with the state Highway Patrol were trying to reconstruct the wreck to determine how fast the SUV was going and to determine if the SUV had any mechanical defect. They planned to use video footage from Walmart security cameras to aid in the reconstruction.

Grief counselors were at Triton High Friday, and officials said they would be there next week as well.

In the school's 2010 yearbook, Tart wrote that he was leaving his seat at Triton High to his great friend, Ashley.

Senior Jonathan Ennis said he had known Tart since the sixth grade.

"I talked to him on MySpace before this crash. We were supposed to hang out after school," a shaken Ennis said. "It just lets you know you are not promised a next day."