Published: 2010-03-29 05:51:00
Updated: 2010-03-30 08:49:39
Posted March 29, 2010 5:51 a.m. EDT
Updated March 30, 2010 8:49 a.m. EDT
Clayton, N.C. — Two West Johnston High School students drowned when their vehicle ran off a flooded road and overturned in a creek, a school spokeswoman says.
The vehicle hit standing water on Steel Bridge Road, near Lee Road, around 7 a.m. and swerved off the road, colliding with a ditch, said Sgt. Jorge Brewer with the state Highway Patrol. It landed upside down in a creek that was swollen with heavy rains.
The driver, Christopher Paul Kosmos, 18, of Angier, was found dead in the swamp about 150 feet from the vehicle.
Authorities said the body of Alissa Chenette, 16, of Clayton, was found still belted into the SUV's passenger seat.
Kosmos, a senior, played the tuba and bass clarinet in the school band and Chenette, a junior, was a member of the school's colorguard.
"Both loved their school and had a zest for life. Their cheerful smiles and greetings always brightened my day," principal Brookie Honeycutt said.
Since the students' names were not released until after school dismissed, Johnston County Schools spokeswoman Terri Sessoms said students will be notified about their deaths through a phone messaging system Monday evening.
Grief counselors will be available at West Johnston High on Tuesday.
Violent storms dumped heavy rain overnight and into Monday morning. A flood warning is in effect for Johnston, Nash, Edgecombe and Wilson counties.
Law enforcement said that streams are overflowing and flooding roads in Johnston and Nash counties, and the flooding will likely spread into Wilson and Edgecombe counties. The warnings also cover the Neuse River in Johnston County and the Tar River in Nash and Edgecombe counties.
Flooding was also reported on Enfield at Glenview Road and Church Street, Ringwood Road, Dennis Street extension, and N.C. Highway 561 and Wards Crossroads.
WRAL viewers reported a creek has caused flooding along Red Oak Road in Nash County. (Get safety tips for driving in flood waters.)
Two to 3 inches of rain has already fallen in those areas, and another 1 to 1.5 inches could fall. By 5 a.m., about 1.4 inches of rain had fallen at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.
The storm system has moved into eastern North Carolina, but a chance of rain will linger through the evening rush hour.
Showers and storms will become "a little more isolated in nature this afternoon," WRAL meteorologist Mike Moss said. "We'll have some hit-and-miss showers and storms possible on into the evening. Overnight tonight, we may have some stray sprinkles and showers."