03/31/05 — Truck driver killed

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Truck driver killed

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on March 31, 2005 1:50 PM

DUDLEY -- A driver for the Mount Olive Pickle Co. was killed Wednesday afternoon after his truck rear-ended a car stopped at a new stoplight on U.S. 117.

David Addison Stevens, 56, of Beulaville, died after his truck overturned in the median, just south of O'Berry Road.

The other driver, Glenda Ward Davis, 52, of Mount Olive, was transported to Wayne Memorial Hospital. She was listed in stable condition this morning.

The accident, reportedly the first fatality ever at the intersection, angered Dudley firefighters who blamed the stoplight.

"That stoplight is totally worthless. It absolutely should not be there," said Kendall Lee, chief of the Dudley Volunteer Fire Department, as he stood next to the wrecked truck.

About 2:55 p.m., Mrs. Davis' 2000 Pontiac Grand Am was stopped at O'Berry Road when the signal changed to green, said Trooper Randy Powell of the N.C. Highway Patrol. She was starting into the intersection when her car was hit by the tractor-trailee.

Stevens either didn't see the car or could not stop, Powell said.

Both vehicles went into the median, the truck overturning. The Grand Am, valued at $8,000, was a total loss. The truck had $20,000 in damage.

The Dudley Fire Department responded to the wreck. Eight firefighters contained a small fuel leak and cut out the truck's windshield to free the driver.

The accident closed a section of the highway to southbound traffic for more than two hours.

The N.C. Department of Transportation had installed the stoplight at O'Berry Road in November 2004. Previously, there had been a flashing light.

The Wayne County commissioners initially tried to stop the signal from being activated. They dropped their protest after DOT personnel told them that there had been 21 accidents in three years at the intersection.

But Dudley firefighters believe that DOT overstated how dangerous the intersection is.

"We only know of eight wrecks there in four years," said Chief Lee. "And there has never been a fatality before. Never."

Bobby Outlaw, a Dudley firefighter for 35 years, said that he also could not recall a fatal accident at the intersection, which opened around 1982 with the new section of U.S. 117. But he believes there will be others.

"You can save that story you're writing and use it again," Outlaw said. "All you'll have to do is change the names."

The accident was the sixth fatal wreck in Wayne County this year, including one inside Goldsboro.