A Sampson County teenager was airlifted Tuesday to WakeMed, where he is currently being treated for severe injuries he suffered in a head-on vehicle collision on U.S. 421 just north of Clinton, a wreck that ultimately involved three vehicles.
The wreck occurred at 12:12 p.m. Tuesday and Sampson County Sheriff’s deputies and Clinton police officers rerouted southbound traffic along Browns Church Road and northbound traffic to Industrial Drive for about three hours Tuesday afternoon so the wreckage could be cleared from the roadway.
Donovan Hayes, 17, of Rose Hill, was airlifted by Carolina Air Care to WakeMed in Raleigh. Three others were transported to Sampson Regional Medical Center with minor injuries.
N.C. Highway Patrol authorities released Hayes’ name Wednesday morning, giving ample time for his family to be notified of the serious nature of the wreck. Investigating Trooper D.E. Tew noted Wednesday morning that Hayes was “doing fine” with what he termed “severe, but non-life-threatening” injuries.
According to Tew’s investigation, Hayes fell asleep at the wheel as he drove his Honda Accord southbound on U.S. 421. He crossed the center line between Martha Lane and Nathan Dudley Road, sideswiping a Hyundai passenger car being driven north by Shanell Baig, 36, of Fayetteville, and causing the Hyundai to travel off the right side of the road.
“The Hyundai saw it and tried to avoid it, so that’s why she was sideswiped,” said Tew, noting the collision spun the Hyundai around and into a ditch. Hayes’ Honda then collided head-on with a Ford Super Duty truck that was pulling a utility trailer with lawnmowers on it.
After impact, the Honda came to rest in the roadway, with significant damage to the front driver’s side quarter panel. The Ford truck ran off the roadway, where it then struck the Hyundai head-on.
“That head-on collision was not as violent as the first one, but did cause some bending in (the Hyundai),” Tew stated.
The truck driver, Fidencio Huerta, 36, of Utah, and passenger Gerson Sampson, 33, of Seven Springs, work for a local lawn care business. They sustained minor injuries along with Baig.
That stretch of U.S. 421 just north of Clinton has proven dangerous in the past, with Tuesday’s wreck at least the third major collision in the area in the past year. A wreck in August 2016 on U.S. 421 at Browns Church Road involved four vehicles and resulted in several injuries. That followed a wreck just a month earlier in July 2016, in which a log truck lost control on U.S. 421, clipped a Star Telephone van and collided head-on with a vehicle being driven by Norma Page Howard, 69, of Autryville, who died as a result.
Tew said there were no other factors in Tuesday’s wreck and it was unknown what may have caused Hayes to fall asleep at the wheel. The teenager was not impaired at the time, the trooper said.
Hayes has been charged with left of center and reckless driving. No additional charges are expected. Tew said Hayes was actually able to call his father right after the wreck, even before the trooper was on the scene of the wreck. Tew found out when he talked with Hayes’ father Wednesday.
“So he knew, but I was unaware of that,” said Tew. “That is why we don’t disclose those names too soon.”
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