Local News

Four men killed in wreck near Garner

Posted July 1, 2010 5:24 a.m. EDT
Updated July 5, 2010 6:51 a.m. EDT

— State troopers have identified four men who died after being thrown from an SUV that wrecked on Rock Service Station Road near Garner early Thursday.

Troopers identified the victims as Detrique Baker, 18, of Raleigh, Evan J. Bridges, 18, of Garner, Larry D. Evans, 38, of Willow Springs, and Tony C. Smith Jr., 22, of Raleigh.

"It's been rough. Such a young life snatched away so soon," Smith's cousin, Carolyn Johnson, said.

Sgt. Jeff Gordon said the men did not have identification with them, so troopers had to rely on fingerprints and distinguishing characteristics to identify them.

The men were ejected from a 2003 silver Chevrolet Trailblazer that was speeding as it came around a curve, ran off the right side of road and then swerved to the left, went into a ditch and flipped over in a wooded area, according to Sgt. Bo Johnson. Three men were thrown about 20 feet from the SUV, and one man was thrown about 50 feet.

There were no witnesses to the wreck, which a passing driver reported around 3:50 a.m. The investigation was ongoing.

Troopers said they haven't determined which man was driving or how fast the SUV was going. The men weren't wearing seat belts. Troopers said they will use the medical examiner's report to analyze the mens' injuries to determine where they were sitting.

Baker played basketball as senior at Quality Education Academy in Winston-Salem last year and before that at Jacksonville High School.

Head basketball coach Isaac Pitts said that Quality Education Academy will dedicate the team's upcoming season to Baker's memory.

He "was a great student-athlete and a fine young man that will always be a part of our Quality Education Academy Family," Pitts wrote in an e-mail.

Family members said that Smith was earning his GED at Wake Technical Community College and had attended Middle Creek High School.

"The thing I'll remember out about him is his smile. I think he had a smile that just kind of melted hearts," Johnson said.

"As soon as he came in a room full of people, he would make sure he spoke to everybody. He would hug everyone in the room," she remembered. "He was just a bubbly person."

Evans had worked for D&E Paving company for seven years, family members said.

Evans has three prior convictions for driving while impaired and two for driving with a revoked license, according to state Department of Correction records. He was serving probation for a May conviction for assault with a deadly weapon. His criminal record dates to 1989 and includes larceny convictions.

DOC records show that Bridges was listed as an absconder from probation stemming from a March larceny conviction, and Smith had felony breaking and entering and larceny convictions from 2007 and 2008.