01/09/06 — Man dies when car overturns in county

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Man dies when car overturns in county

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on January 9, 2006 1:50 PM

A passenger was killed Saturday when he was ejected from a car that overturned on top of him on Gurley Dairy Road, the Highway Patrol said.

The driver survived the wreck after rescue efforts by the Wayne County Sheriff's Office, the Highway Patrol and a county emergency dispatcher.

The victim was identified as William Hunter Jr., 32, of 3586 Pikeville-Princeton Road, Pikeville.

The driver, James Robert Rast, 19, of Whitley Church Road, Princeton, was rushed by ambulance to Wayne Memorial Hospital, where he was stabilized and then transferred to Pitt County Memorial Hospital in Greenville. His condition was not immediately known.

Rast was driving east at about 3:55 a.m. on Gurley Dairy Road, west of Capps Bridge Road. Trooper J.S. Smith said Rast entered a right curve, lost control of his car, and it crossed the center line, ran off the left side, struck several large rocks and an embankment, went airborne, struck two trees and overturned on its roof, stopping in a front yard.

Sheriff's Cpl. Sherwood Daly said Rast, while dangling from a window, managed to call 911, but he did not know where he was. He told dispatcher Stephanie Cannon that he had been on Charlie Braswell, Ebenezer Church and other roads, all south of U.S. 70.

Daly said he, Deputies Kenneth Grice and Chuck Arnold and Smith covered 16 roads in four fire districts over the next 30 minutes without finding the car.

"Every time he would call, if he lost a signal, Stephanie would call him back. She did a tremendous job in trying to help us find him," Daly said.

When the officers could not find him, they decided to turn on their sirens to determine if Rast could hear them.

"We knew we might wake up some people," Daly said. "But he said he was hurt bad and his buddy was hurt bad. It got to the point that we might wake up some people but we had to take the chance to save a life or two."

Ms. Cannon kept asking Rast if he could hear the sirens. Finally the driver said he could hear one, and the officers converged on that spot and found Rast at about 4:35 a.m. on the north side of U.S. 70.

Little River and Nahunta firefighters assisted at the scene. Nahunta volunteers cut the car open to remove the bodies.

Daly said Sheriff Carey Winders said that it was good thinking for the officers to turn on their sirens.

Ms. Cannon "played a critical role. She kept her composure and did a wonderful job," Daly said.

Rast's car, a 1993 Ford, was demolished. It was valued at $3,000.

Smith said charges are pending against Rast.

The fatality was the second in 2006 on Wayne County roads.