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Week of wrecks leaves 15 people dead

Posted December 13, 2009 9:28 a.m. EST
Updated December 22, 2009 1:44 p.m. EST

— The state Highway Patrol said at least 15 people have been killed over the last week on North Carolina roads. The most recent deaths occurred overnight Saturday when three people were killed in two separate wrecks in Wake County.

Wake Forest police said that Robert Ernesto Harris, 37, of Franklin County, died in a three-vehicle wreck on U.S. Highway 1, south of the N.C. Highway 98 Bypass in Wake Forest, around 3 a.m.

Meanwhile, Justin Christopher Thomas Dufur, 20, and Bryan William Meyer, 23, both of Raleigh, died in a single-vehicle wreck on Pinecrest Road, at Country Trail, in Raleigh.

A passerby reported a vehicle off the roadway around 7:45 a.m., but Raleigh police said they believe the wreck happened a couple hours earlier. Homeowners told police they heard a loud noise overnight.

The wreck report says that Dufur lost control of a 2006 Subaru car while going south on Pinecrest. The car spun out and went off the right side of the road. When the wheels hit the curb, the car began to roll over. It slide sideways down a hill, with only two tires touching the ground, and struck a tree with its roof. The car hit another tree, knocking it over, then rotated around that tree. It came to rest on its side, facing north.

The wreck report says the Subaru was going 60 mph in a 45 mph zone.

Investigations into both the Wake Forest and Raleigh wrecks are continuing. No charges have been filed in either one.

Over the last week, at least 15 people across the state have died in car crashes.

"That's unbelievable. It’s such a tragedy anytime, especially with the holidays coming up,” Trooper M.P. Cape said.

Among the deaths was Gary McLamb, 59, who was killed when he ran off the road Saturday night while coming around a sharp curve in the 9000 block of Strickland's Crossroads Road, near Interstate 40, south of Benson.

In Carrboro, Melinda Grossman, 60, was killed Saturday afternoon after she stopped her car along Jones Ferry Road, near Ferguson Road, after another driver hit a cat. As she bent over to help the cat, a third car hit and killed her.

In Hope Mills, four people died from injuries sustained in a head-on collision Thursday night.

Police said Brooke Paquin was riding with Tristan Hanna when his car crossed the center line on Hope Mills Road and hit an SUV carrying a family of three. Hanna, 26, was killed. Paquin, 32, died at the hospital.

The driver of the SUV, Hien Truong, and his 11-month-old child, Hanna, were also killed.

In Knightdale, passenger Gavin Boyd Westover, 16, died Tuesday morning after being injured in wreck Monday on Puryear Road.

In Durham, siblings – Calvin Brandon, 9, and Hassan Bingham, 6, both of Durham – died when their mother's Ford Explorer was hit by a train near the intersection of Ellis Road and Angier Avenue early Wednesday evening.

Though all the wrecks were different, Cape said drivers need to obey the speed limit and pay attention.

"Everybody just needs to slow down. One or two minutes on the travel, as far as getting to a restaurant or wherever you're going, it isn't going to make or break your whole day,” Cape said. “But if you get into a wreck and hurt yourself or hurt somebody else, you just can't make it up. You can't recover from that."