04/08/07 — Student who died was on way to get prom tux

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Student who died was on way to get prom tux

By Lee Williams
Published in News on April 8, 2007 2:01 AM

Friends and family said goodbye Saturday to the Princeton High School senior who died Wednesday in a two-vehicle accident on U.S. 70 West and Old Cornwallis Road not far from the Wayne County line.

The funeral for James Stuart Cook, 20, of Kenly, was held at 2 p.m. at Seymour Funeral Home Chapel in Goldsboro.

Cook and his passenger, Jeremy Lynn Pennell, 17, of Smithfield, who is also a Princeton High School senior, were on their way to Goldsboro to pick up their tuxedos for their Thursday prom when tragedy struck.

Cook was driving Pennell's white 1996 Jeep Cherokee at about 4:10 p.m. when he allegedly ran a stop sign and was struck by a 2004 Ford F-350 driven by Patrick Rawls, 42, of Clayton, Trooper Dwight Green said.

"He was coming south on Old Cornwallis Road," Green said. "He failed to stop at the stop sign and was t-boned by the driver of a Ford pickup."

Rawls was traveling west on U.S. 70 and had the right of way, he added.

The collision caused the Jeep to roll at least twice before landing in the grassy median. Bulldozer blades from a trailer Rawls was hauling spilled into the road.

Pennell was thrown from the Jeep. Cook was trapped inside.

It took rescue crews about an hour and 20 minutes to extract Cook from the sports utility vehicle, officials said.

Troopers from the Highway Patrol in Wayne and Johnston counties and members of Princeton Volunteer Fire Department, Smithfield EMS and Selma EMS responded to the scene.

Cook was transported by air ambulance to Pitt County Memorial Hospital in Greenville where he later died. Pennell was flown to Duke University Medical Center in Raleigh where he was listed in stable condition.

Rawls was taken to Johnston Memorial Hospital in Smithfield where he was treated and released.

Green said the students were not wearing seat belts during the crash. He said Rawls was wearing a seat belt.

Green also said Cook was driving at the time of the crash, but did not have a driver's license. No drugs or alcohol were involved, he added.

News of the crash stunned classmates, friends, relatives and school officials at Princeton High School who spoke highly of the students.

In their absence, classmates honored Cook and Pennell at their prom, which was held at Lane Tree Golf Course in Goldsboro, sources said.