Three lives were lost in an unprecedented three separate wrecks across Sampson County from Thursday afternoon into Friday morning, according to N.C. Highway Patrol authorities.
Among the victims were a Newton Grove man whose ATV collided with a log truck; a Clinton man ejected in a harrowing one-car collision; and an elderly Raleigh man who was the passenger in a multi-car collision.
The first occurred at 3:59 p.m. Thursday at the intersection of Green Path Road and Godwin Lake Road, about 3.5 miles south of Dunn, claiming the life of 85-year-old Bobby Barnes. According to reports from Trooper C.H. Strickland, June Stell Barnes, 76, and Bobby Barnes were traveling in a 2007 Honda passenger car, with June Barnes at the wheel.
The Honda was traveling north on Godwin Lake Road and attempted to make a left-hand turn onto Green Path Road, pulling out in front of an oncoming 2005 Ford pickup being driven west by David Allen Tart, 38, of Dunn. The pickup was unable to avoid the Honda, striking the passenger’s side where Bobby Barnes was sitting, causing fatal injuries to the elderly occupant. He was wearing a seat belt, reports state.
Both vehicles ran off the right side of the roadway after impact, each striking a ditch. It was not immediately known what injuries, if any, were sustained by June Barnes and Tart.
The next fatal wreck occurred at 4 a.m. Friday on Lisbon Bridge Road, about half a mile north of N.C. 411, east of Garland.
According to reports from Strickland, Jorge Manuel Vazquez, 27, of 109 Vasquez Lane, Clinton, was traveling north on Lisbon Bridge Road when he crossed the center line, over-corrected and ran off the right side of the roadway, striking several trees before the 2006 Chevrolet passenger vehicle he was driving came to rest.
Vasquez, who was not wearing his seat belt, was ejected during the collision, reports indicate. There were no passengers in the vehicle at the time. Strickland noted in reports that the vehicle was exceeding a safe speed for the road conditions.
The most recent wreck occurred at 10:39 a.m. Friday and involved a collision between a log truck and an ATV being driven by an 81-year-old Newton Grove resident on Wash McLamb Road in the Newton Grove area.
A log truck owned by Low Land Trucking of Tar Heel, being driven by Mark Landon Woodell, 52, was traveling south on Wash McLamb Road when an ATV being operated by Joseph Alfred Wilson, 81, “failed to yield the right of way from a private driveway” and was struck by the log truck, reports from Trooper A.B. Clark stated.
Wilson was killed as a result. It was unclear whether Woodell sustained any injuries.
With the deadly incidents, a fairly low number of traffic fatalities this year in Sampson County jumped by 25 percent in less than a day — from 12 to 15. There were 22 deaths on Sampson roadways at this point last year. There would ultimately be 23 fatalities for 2016, when beloved Star employee Timothy Butler, 42, died in a motorcycle wreck on Minnie Hall Road on Christmas Eve.
The string of deadly wrecks across the county in less than a day, from one of the northernmost points in the county to the southern end, left Highway Patrol authorities shaking their heads.
“I can’t remember having three in a 24-hour span like this,” said Tina Byrd, longtime Highway Patrol employee in Sampson.
The fatal wrecks were the first on county roadways in nearly two months, since a Oct. 26 multi-car collision on U.S. 421 (Taylors Bridge Highway) claimed the lives of Vicki Bullard Bass, 67, and husband Michael “Mike” Bass, 67, and injured several others. Vicki was pronounced dead at the scene and Mike succumbed to his injuries a week later.
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