12/24/08 — Four die in three crashes in county Tuesday

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Four die in three crashes in county Tuesday

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on December 24, 2008 1:46 PM

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First responders took in this scene upon arriving at a three-car wreck at the intersection of N.C. 55 and N.C. 403 about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. A LaGrange man was killed in the accident and two others were injured.

Tuesday was one of the deadliest days in Wayne County highway history, with four people killed in three separate accidents within a two-hour span.

Killed were a woman from Wilson, a 23-year-old Fremont man, a 40-year-old Pikeville woman and a 51-year-old LaGrange man, authorities said.

A Pikeville woman died about 11:30 am. in the 700 block of Buck Swamp Road just past the Buck Run subdivision, when she was ejected from her white four-door Oldsmobile sedan.

Sharon Coker was in her home and watched as the vehicle driven by Tammy Lynn Sullivan, 40, of Pikeville, careened across her front lawn around 11:45 a.m.

"I had forgotten my keys and I was on my way back out," Mrs. Coker said, describing what she saw.

"I looked out my garage door and saw her flipping," Mrs. Coker said. "I heard her hit the mailbox, and then I saw her flipping through the front yard. It looks like she just lost control."

Mrs. Sullivan's vehicle had flipped over and was facing opposite her direction of travel when it stopped.

Highway Patrol Trooper A.R. Fowler investigated the accident.

Mrs. Sullivan's point of impact appeared to be a driveway culvert, Fowler said, sending her on an airborne collision course. The victim's vehicle tore large divots from the earth in front of Mrs. Coker's home, and her mailbox was ripped from the ground.

Skid marks on the road were only in her lane of travel, but Fowler said she apparently had gone off the road prior to losing control.

"It looks like she ran off the right side of the road, overcorrected, and struck the (culvert)," the trooper said.

The victim, who was not wearing her seat belt, was ejected and was dead before authorities arrived, including the nearby Belfast Volunteer Fire Department.

Authorities collected Mrs. Sullivan's personal effects, which included wrapped Christmas gifts.

At almost the same time, another wreck killed a Fremont driver and a 78-year-old Wilson woman and left a passenger injured.

The Highway Patrol said that driver Christopher Anthony Ream, 23, failed to stop for a stop sign while headed toward Fremont on Polly Watson Road, at its intersection with N.C. 581.

That led to a collision with a 1994 Chevrolet driven by Ada Williams Jones, 78, of Wilson, killing both Ream and Ms. Jones.

Ream's passenger, Joshua Davis, 22, of Princeton, was hospitalized with injuries that were not considered to be life threatening.

Then, just before 1:30 p.m., a three-car accident at the intersection of N.C. 55 and N.C. 403 east of Mount Olive killed a LaGrange man and injured two others.

Papers and other personal effects of Darrell Lynn Houck, 51, of Water Oak Drive, were scattered across the intersection.

Houck's 2005 Ford Taurus was off the roadway, at the intersection of Pineview Cemetery Road, and the driver's side was nearly unrecognizable as an automobile after the impact.

Houck died at the scene.

Two other drivers were severely injured in the crash, and were listed in serious condition at Wayne Memorial Hospital on Wednesday evening, troopers said.

Shelly Ann Shearer, 40, of Havelock, was driving a 2006 Honda Element SUV. Brandon Lee Joyner, 24, of Greenwood Drive, Greenville, was driving a 2001 Honda Accord.

The rear end of the SUV had been lifted off the ground by impact, and sat in the crumpled trunk of the Accord. The SUV had been lifted so high off the ground that rescue workers had to put wooden blocks underneath it to keep it stable.

Fowler, who left the Buck Swamp Road accident to head to the N.C. 55 scene, said he believes a stop sign violation led to the accident.

His determination of fault in the accident, however, will have to wait until the hospitalized victims can be interviewed, the trooper said.

"I need to talk to them first, just to make sure. I need to verify who was going where and in what direction," Fowler said. "I pretty much know, from the roadway, but I want to at least talk to them."