09/18/08 — Students killed in two-car accident

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Students killed in two-car accident

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on September 18, 2008 1:38 PM

PRINCETON -- A two-car accident killed one current Princeton High School student and a former student Wednesday evening, the Johnston County Highway Patrol said.

Matthew Brandon Woodside Stewart, 17, and Brandon Lee Baker, 21, a former Princeton High School student, died following the wreck on Fellow-ship Church Road, near Princeton-Kenly Road, patrol secretary Wendy Stancil said.

Two others -- driver Nathan Ryan Pearson, 17, and passenger Cody Mconnel, 17, also of Princeton -- were injured in the crash, according to a first draft of Trooper M.D. Williams' accident report, Mrs. Stancil said.

The accident occurred around 8:30 p.m. on Fellow-ship Church Road, when Pearson is believed to have crossed the roadway's center line, Mrs. Stancil said.

The 1997 Saturn that Pearson drove collided head-on with a 1994 Jeep driven by Rosa Pendergras Wilson, 80, of Kenly, according to the report.

The car carrying the four young men came to rest in the northbound lane of Fellowship Church Road, facing south after impact, Mrs. Stancil said.

Mrs. Wilson's Jeep also came to rest in the northbound lane, facing north, her original direction of travel.

Mconnel and Pearson were transported to Wake Medical Center in Raleigh, and Mrs. Wilson was taken to Duke Medical Center.

WakeMed spokesperson Heather Monackey said Pear-son, the driver, was in fair condition Thursday morning, and Mconnel was in serious condition.

The public affairs office at Duke Medical Center did not immediately return a phone call requesting Mrs. Wilson's condition.

Princeton High School was open for a regular school day today, with grief counselors in place to speak with students suffering emotionally from the accident, Johnson County schools spokesperson Terry Sessoms said.

Mrs. Sessoms said she set up a media center in a parking lot across from the high school, where she was fielding media questions and doing other work.

"I came in early this morning ... and set this up so the administrators are unhindered, so they can address student needs. It's just a very somber atmosphere here right now," Sessoms said. "Our biggest sympathy goes out to the families that are dealing with this, and you know, our hearts go out not to just the families, but the students and the community here at large."