Sanford man, 74, charged in fatal Sampson wreck

By Chris Berendt - [email protected]

A 74-year-old motorist has been charged in the death of a passenger riding with him earlier this month when his SUV ran off the side of the roadway and struck a ditch in the northern end of Sampson County.

The single-vehicle collision happened at 5:21 p.m. July 5 on U.S. 13, about six-tenths of a mile from Wrye Branch Road. According to reports from the N.C. Highway Patrol in Sampson County, a 2017 Ford SUV being driven west on U.S. 13 by James Edward Thomas, 74, of Sanford, crossed the centerline and ran off the left of the road and into a ditch.

Thomas had four passengers with him in the July 5 wreck, including rear passenger George Richard Garrabrant, 73, of Maxton. Garrabrant died six days later, on July 11, at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville. The death was deemed as being the result of the wreck, so Highway Patrol officials termed the wreck a “delayed fatal.”

Thomas, whose address is listed as 445 Northview Drive, Sanford, was charged Tuesday with misdemeanor death by vehicle. Clinton Police served the warrant, which was originally taken out on July 17.

Thomas was placed under $5,000 unsecured bond for the charge.

Two other rear passengers, Richard Parrish. 69, of Hope Mills, and Leroy Bacchus, 53, of Raeford, suffered non-life-threatening injuries but were not transported. Thomas and front seat passenger Robert Muramoto, 78, of Fayetteville, sustained no injuries, reports state.

All five of the men were wearing seat belts at the time and no other contributing factors in the wreck were listed in the reports other than the vehicle going left of center, which led to the wreck.

Garrabrant’s obituary notes that he served in the U.S. Air Force as a jet engine technician, which included time during the Vietnam War, Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Operation Freedom. His death was the 10th on Sampson County roadways this year, compared to six at this point in 2017.

By Chris Berendt

[email protected]

Managing Editor Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 2587.

Managing Editor Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 2587.