NEWTON GROVE — Two Newton Grove residents were killed in a head-on collision on U.S. 701 in northern Sampson County Wednesday, a fatal wreck that adds to a growing total of roadway deaths in the county this summer.
The two-vehicle collision happened at 3:29 p.m. Wednesday on U.S. 701 (Hobbton Highway), about four-tenths of a mile south of Bryan Road.
According to N.C. Highway Patrol reports, Doris Richardson Cole, 55, of Jones Pond Lane, Newton Grove, was traveling south on U.S. 701 in a 2002 Pontiac passenger car and Steven Robert Anttila, 45, of Hobbton Highway, Newton Grove, was northbound in a 1995 Plymouth car not far from his home when Cole’s vehicle crossed the center line.
Neither had passengers and both were wearing their seat belts, according to reports by Trooper J.F. Smith, who investigated the wreck. Both were estimated to be traveling the posted speed limit of 55 mph.
After the head-on collision, Cole’s Pontiac came to rest in the roadway, while Anttila’s Plymouth plummeted off the right side of the roadway, striking a sign, a mailbox and then a ditch, at which point it overturned. Cole was pronounced dead at the scene by Sampson County EMS personnel. Anttila was transported to WakeMed in Raleigh, where he succumbed to his injuries later in the day Wednesday.
It is unknown what caused Cole’s vehicle to cross the center line. The wreck is still under investigation.
Similar to 2015, this summer in Sampson County has seen a number of deaths on the roadways, with more than half the motor vehicle deaths this year occurring in the past four and a half weeks. Wednesday’s deadly collision was the 10th fatal wreck on Sampson County roadways in 2016 and the 12th and 13th lives claimed as a result.
There have been seven deaths in four wrecks in little more than a month, three of them involving multiple vehicles and a head-on collision. The U.S. 701 wreck was the second fatal accident in the county in the past five days following the death of Mason Lee Barnes, 16, who was killed Friday night in a single-vehicle accident on Beulah Road.
On June 25, three Sampson residents — Katie Lee, 21, Jason Williams, 32, and his 5-year-old son Christopher — were killed in a head-on wreck in the Godwin area of Sampson when Williams’ vehicle crossed the center line and struck the vehicle Lee was driving. A July 13 head-on collision on U.S. 421 claimed the life of Norma Howard, 69, of Autryville. The 21-year-old driver of the log truck that crossed the center line and struck her Buick SUV was subsequently charged.
The roadway deaths in Sampson this year now equal the amount through this point last year, when there were 13 deaths in 12 wrecks. Last summer, there were eight deaths in seven wrecks through July and August. By comparison, in 2014, the Highway Patrol investigated just nine deaths on county roadways, one each in June, July and August and two in September.
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.