Local News

Roseboro man dies in wreck on his birthday

Posted November 30, 2010 4:52 p.m. EST
Updated November 30, 2010 7:03 p.m. EST

— A Sampson County man was killed Saturday morning while driving to work on his birthday when another driver fell asleep at the wheel, authorities said.

Thomas Earl Owens, 52, of Roseboro, was headed to a 12-hour shift at the Goodyear plant in Fayetteville at about 6 a.m. when an SUV hit his 1998 Toyota pickup on N.C. Highway 24 near Autryville, authorities said. His pickup then went off the right side of highway and hit a mailbox and fence before winding up in a ditch.

"I can't believe it to this day. It's just something you would never imagine to happen," Owens' son, Brandon Owens, said Tuesday. "He was a great husband, also a great father."

Thomas Owens' wife had made him blueberry cobbler for his birthday breakfast and sent him off to work with a kiss and a birthday card, his son said.

The Highway Patrol says Andrew Barden fell asleep while driving his 1999 Ford Expedition on N.C. 24. After hitting Owens' pickup, the SUV hit a 2001 Ford car, troopers said.

The driver of the Ford, Eric Conway, 24, of Clinton, was treated at the scene for his injuries, according to an accident report.

Barden, 54, of Waycross Road in Magnoilia, and a passenger in his SUV, Tasha Moore, 34, of Fayetteville, were treated at Sampson Regional Medical Center and released, according to the report.

Barden was charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle and reckless driving.

"It was an accident," said Laura Chestnutt, Thomas Owens' sister. "I'm praying for (Barden) because I know he's going through a lot."

Chestnutt said her brother, the youngest of 16 children, was a fun-loving man, yet he was hard-working and disciplined. He spent three years in the Marines at Camp Lejeune.

"When Thomas got with us, every day was a birthday for him," she said.

Brandon Owens said his father was very religious, teaching a Bible study class and ushering at church.

"The No. 1 thing about my father, what I love about him, was his Christian heart and the role he played in the church," Brandon Owens said. "I know he was in God's hands at all times. He always was with God."