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Speed contributed to wreck that killed Clayton High senior

State troopers said that an 18-year-old from Clayton was killed Friday night after his vehicle overturned during a wreck about two miles east of town.

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CLAYTON, N.C. — State troopers said that a Clayton teenager was killed after his vehicle overturned during a wreck Friday night.

The wreck victim, 18-year-old Kyle Kozlowski, was a senior at Clayton High School, friends said.

Troopers said that a truck driven by Kozlowski swerved several times across Loop Road, near Covered Bridge Road, around 11 p.m. The truck ran into a ditch off the right side of the road, flipped over and struck several trees.

Kozlowski was partially ejected from the vehicle and died of his injuries, troopers said. He was traveling about 70 mph and was not wearing a seatbelt. 

"It was literally a tenth of a mile from his house," said friend Phillip Worrell. "I walked from the crash site to his house last night. I had to go in and get his dad. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do."

Worrell, who is also a senior at Clayton High, said he was driving in front of Kozlowski while they were coming back from Wal-Mart. Kozlowski passed him in a passing zone on Loop Road near Clayton Fear Farm, he said, then wrecked in a curve.

The wheels on Kozlowski's truck were still spinning when he called 911, Worrell said.

"He was going too fast and ended up in heaven instead of at home," Worrell said.

He remembers his friend as someone who always put the people around him at ease.

"You needed to be cheered up, you needed a laugh, that's who you'd call," Worrell said. "No matter the situation, no matter how bad it was, he'd be the one making jokes, doing something funny."

Kozlowski was active in his youth group at Greater Heights United Methodist Church in Clayton and was on the wrestling team at their high school for two years, Worrell said.

He and Kozlowski were best friends and planned to be roommates at East Carolina University in the fall, he said.

Friends of Kozlowski planned to hold a candlelight vigil at Clayton High at 7 p.m. Sunday.

Worrell said he hopes that other teens will learn from his friend's death that they should wear seat belts and not speed.

"You slow down a little bit. You'll get there safe," he said.


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