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North Johnston High student killed in wreck

A North Johnston High School senior died Thursday morning in a crash, authorities said. He is the second Johnston County student to die in a wreck in the past week.

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KENLY, N.C. — A North Johnston High School student died Thursday morning in a crash, authorities said.

Christopher Hayden Peedin, 17, was eastbound on Hinnant-Edgerton Road at about 6:45 a.m. when he lost control of his 1997 Toyota pickup near the intersection with Princeton-Kenly Road, according to the state Highway Patrol. The truck went off the road and into a ditch, flipped and slammed into a tree, killing Peedin.

Authorities said Peedin, a senior at North Johnston High, was on his way to pick up a friend to head to school.

Troopers said he was driving 65 to 70 mph at the time of the crash. The posted speed limit along the road is 55 mph. Troopers also noted that he wasn't wearing a seat belt.

The wreck happened in front of John Cunningham's house.

"This is a tragic, tragic event, and Johnston County has had too many of these incidents," Cunningham said.

Peedin is the second Johnston County student to die in a week in a traffic wreck.

Kyle Kozlowski, a senior at Clayton High School, was killed late Friday when he lost control of his speeding car on Loop Road near Covered Bridge Road east of Clayton. He was buried Thursday.

"It seems to be hitting this one target population, and I just wish the young people would understand it's very important to slow down," Cunningham said.

Peedin's father echoed that advice for drivers.

"Keep under the speed limit and wear your seat belt," he said. "Unfortunately, he didn't have his on."

Johnston County Schools has partnered with county leaders to start a safe-driving initiative, called Peer to Peer Safe Teen Driving. Driving experts are training students at each of the 10 high schools in the county on promoting safe driving and keeping driving distractions to a minimum.

Luther Peedin said his son, who was a junior firefighter and a member of his high school wrestling team, planned to join the Coast Guard after he graduated this spring.

"He grew up to be the greatest kid you could ask for," he said while fighting back tears.

"His love, I mean, you can't get that back, brother," he said. "My heart and soul is gone, man. I've lost all the tears. I've not got no heart and soul. I miss my son. I wish I had him back."

Johnston County Schools officials said grief counselors were at the high school Thursday for students and staff.

Superintendent Ed Croom said, "I am deeply saddened whenever a student death occurs. I urge all students to drive safely. Our prayers go out to the families of those who have experienced the loss of loved ones."

Tim Harrell, prinicpal at North Johnston High, issued a similar statement. He said, "The North Johnston family is deeply saddened at the loss of Hayden. He was an outstanding young man and an important member of our senior class and school family. He was a devoted wrestler and was involved in many school activities. He loved his school and we loved him. His positive impact on our school will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family. He will always be a Panther."

The wrestling team canceled a match scheduled for Thursday evening to mourn for their teammate.


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