03/04/07 — Friday accidents leave two dead; 1 in critical condition

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Friday accidents leave two dead; 1 in critical condition

By Lee Williams
Published in News on March 4, 2007 2:04 AM

A 19-year-old college student and a 70-year-old man died in separate single-vehicle accidents Friday.

A 20-year-old man remains in critical condition after the accident that killed his girlfriend.

Dudley teen Katie Elizabeth Jones was killed and her boyfriend was injured Friday evening in a one-vehicle crash on Bert Martin Lane near N.C. 55 West outside Mount Olive city limits.

Kyle Martin Berger, 20, of LaGrange, was driving north on Bert Martin Lane when he lost control of his 1991 white Jeep Cherokee while negotiating a curve at a high rate of speed, Trooper Jason Edwards said.

Berger's Jeep crossed the center line, ran off the road to the left, struck a ditch and began flipping end over end.

"The vehicle was found upside down in the northbound lane back on the road," Edwards said.

Berger was ejected from the Jeep. His passenger, Miss Jones, 19, of Dudley, was partially ejected.

The accident happened about 9:50 p.m., Edwards said. Neither occupant was wearing a seat belt, the trooper added.

Speed and inexperience were factors in the accident, Edwards said. Alcohol was not believed to be involved. Both Berger and Jones attended Wayne Community College.

Troopers from the Highway Patrol, Wayne County sheriff's deputies, firefighters from the Mount Olive Volunteer Fire Department and Wayne County Emergency Medical Services responded to the accident.

Berger was transported to Wayne Memorial Hospital. He was later flown by EastCare helicopter to Pitt County Memorial Hospital in Greenville where he was listed in critical condition, hospital officials said Saturday night.

On Friday morning, Goldsboro police, firefighters and EMS responded to a fiery crash on Juniper Street.

Upon arrival, emergency crews found smoke and flames pouring from a Nissan Sentra with the victim, identified as David Lee Harper, still inside.

Harper, 70, was backing out of his driveway at 1512 Juniper St. and ended up in his neighbor's driveway at 1509 Juniper St. He backed over a gas meter and his car ignited, Goldsboro police Sgt. Trey Ball said.

Witnesses say they were told that Harper likely had a heart attack and might have died before the car ignited.

"That's what we are looking at," Ball said. "We can't confirm that."

An autopsy will be performed on the body to determine an exact cause of death, he added.