03/02/04 — Students, staff shocked at teacher's death

View Archive

Students, staff shocked at teacher's death

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 2, 2004 1:59 PM

The death of a Mount Olive Middle School teacher has sent shock waves through the school.

Harriet Meek, 37, was killed Monday in a car accident around 7 a.m. at Elm Street and the Martin Luther King Expressway. Her 12-year-old daughter Jamie, a sixth-grader at the school, was also in the car.

Harriet Meek

Harriet Meek

Richard Sauls, principal at the school, said he passed the accident on his way to work but did not realize a teacher was involved.

"I got to the school a little after 8," he said. "I was told she was in an accident. About 8:30, we got a call that she had died."

Jamie was taken to Wayne Memorial Hospital for treatment. She was listed in good condition this morning.

Marlee Ray, director of instructional support services for the school system, said counselors and psychologists were sent to the school to work with students and staff. Several from the central office also stepped in to handle calls and office duties at the school.

Sauls said announcements were made in individual classrooms and a letter was sent home to parents at the end of the day.

The news hit the school, with 325 students and 51 staff members, particularly hard. It was like losing a member of the family, he said.

"The staff is taking it equally as hard as the children," he said. "It's been a very sad day at our school."

Ms. Meek, an eighth-grade language arts and social studies teacher, was very popular with students, parents and teachers and highly respected, Sauls said. A teacher since 1999, she was heavily involved in school activities, he said.

"She was the type of person that not only did her job, but also volunteered with such things as readying technology students for their state competition," he said. "She probably taught two-thirds of the eighth-grade students."

He described her as a warm person with a good sense of humor and a winning personality.

"She always maintained a good relationship with students and everyone," he said.

"It's going to be a hard loss for our school, replacing her as a teacher. She was a friend to so many."

Goldsboro police have not determined who was at fault in Monday's fatal traffic collision. No charges have been filed, but Officer David Wilson said his investigation was continuing.

Ms. Meek, 37, of 603 W. Chestnut St., died when her westbound car collided with a northbound tractor-trailer at about 7:15 a.m. at West Elm Street and Dr. M.L. King Jr. Expressway South, the U.S. 117 bypass.

Ms. Meek and her daughter had to be cut from the wreckage of their 2000 Ford Taurus.

The trucker, Carlton Earl Jenkins, 40, of Bethel, was treated and released from the hospital. He was driving a rig carrying timber for Faye Liverman of Aulander.

Police were to interview other witnesses to determine if either driver had run the stoplight.

Ms. Meek's car was demolished. It was valued at $15,000. Damage also was estimated at $15,000 to the 1994 International tractor-trailer.

The fatality was the first in 2004 in Goldsboro. Four people have died this year in one collision in Wayne County.