Local News

Woman not bitter about fiery Sanford wreck that killed husband

Posted July 18, 2011 5:20 p.m. EDT
Updated July 18, 2011 6:54 p.m. EDT

— A woman whose husband died recently in a fiery wreck caused by a driver heading the wrong way on U.S. Highway 1 in Sanford said Monday that she wants a better explanation of what led to the crash.

David Earl Spears, 46, was headed home to Rockingham on July 9 with his wife, Debbie, and 13-year-old son, Will, after a week-long baseball tournament in Virginia Beach, Va. A GMC Envoy heading north in the southbound lanes of U.S. 1 near the Hawkins Avenue bridge slammed head-on into the Spears' Chevrolet Suburban at 65 mph, authorities said.

"Everything happened very quickly," Debbie Spears said. "In my heart, it felt like it was bad."

Dazed and injured, she and her son were able to climb out of a shattered window as the mangled Suburban sat in the grass on the shoulder of the highway. The SUV then erupted into flames, trapping David Spears inside.

David Spears and the GMC's driver, Joyce Lorraine Tubbs, 63, of Wake Forest, died at the scene.

"I was determined at that point to remain calm for my son," Debbie Spears said. "(David) would not want me to be the sad mom who is so caught up up in this tragedy that I could not live for these children."

State Highway Patrol troopers said that believe Tubbs was unfamiliar with the area and might have been confused by the U.S. 1 access signs.

"I wanted to know what happened. I wanted to know what were the circumstances," Debbie Spears said of her family's wreck. "There's no bitterness."

Two other fatal wrecks involving wrong-way drivers have occurred on U.S. 1 in Sanford in the last three years.

In September 2008, Janie Mabe Hardy, 80, of Sanford, was driving north in the southbound lanes of U.S. 1 near the U.S. 421 Bypass. In May 2010, Josh Britt, 17, and Anthony Boswell, 48, both of Sanford, died in a head-on collision on northbound U.S. 1 near Wicker Street. Police said Boswell was drunk and driving in the wrong way.

The state Department of Transportation began reviewing the highway a year ago for possible improvements to prevent such head-on collisions, but no changes have been made. A DOT spokesman said Monday that the agency is waiting to hear from the regional engineer's office on a new evaluation and whether changes must be made to signs.