03/19/09 — Speaking for Zeb: Family wants driver to answer for 2008 death at county intersection

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Speaking for Zeb: Family wants driver to answer for 2008 death at county intersection

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on March 19, 2009 1:46 PM

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Mable Langston, right, talks about her late husband, Zeb, along with her daughter Anjanette Reed, on Tuesday. Zeb Langston was killed in a traffic accident more than a year ago. His wife and daughter have pushed to have charges filed against the other driver.

When Mable Langston dropped off her husband on Feb. 28, 2008, he was just picking up his truck from the shop.

It was the last time she would see him.

Zeb Langston Jr., the son of Zeb and Emma Langston of the Genoa area, told his wife to go on after she dropped him off.

"He said, 'I'm going to go ahead and wait for my truck,'" Mrs. Langston said. "This is the truck that he had spent money on trying to have it refurbished, his daddy's truck, a 1955 Chevy."

Mrs. Langston complied with her husband's request.

"I kept going, and he went on into the shop, and that's the last time I saw him," Mrs. Langston said.

From the shop, Langston apparently went to visit his father's old farm, not far from where he ran a business with his father, Langston Sand & Gravel near Busco Beach.

Not far from there, and not far from his boyhood home, Langston collided with a vehicle driven by Thomas Gagne, near the intersection of U.S. 117 South Bypass and Bryan Boulevard. Langston died in the accident.

Mrs. Langston and her daughter, Anjanette Reed, a Goldsboro High School special education teacher, have been fighting for prosecution of Gagne, a man they say ran a stop light, killing Langston.

The District Attorney's office at first declined prosecution against Gagne, according to the family and Wayne County Highway Patrol First Sgt. Jerry Burton.

It wasn't until the family hired attorney Donald Pollock of Kinston that charges were pursued against Gagne, Mrs. Langston and Mrs. Reed said.

According to court records, Gagne has been charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, reckless driving to endanger and failure to stop for a steady red light.

Mrs. Langston said their last court date, on March 10, was canceled when a district attorney had an illness in the family.

She said she understands why delays happen, but added that it seems like the case has taken forever, Mrs. Langston said.

"My daughter and I both would like for a trial to be held, and some conclusion to this," Mrs. Langston said. "I know it won't bring back my husband, but I would feel better if there was just some type of punishment given, some points on his license. Something."

Mrs. Reed said she still gets chills when she passes the Rock Quarry Road exit on Interstate 40. That was where she got the call about her father last year.

She was driving to the regional basketball tournament in Burlington with her younger son Jarran, now 16, a basketball and football player at Goldsboro High School.

Jarran and his older brother Donald, 19, a student at N.C. Agricultural and Technical State University, saw Langston as a father figure, Mrs. Reed said.

She believes that God put Donald near her on the day of Langston's death, riding along with her to see his brother Jarran playing, Mrs. Reed said.

Mrs. Langston said were he around to do it, her husband would chide her into continuing to seek justice.

According to his wife, Langston also served in the U.S. Army, serving a 20-year career that included two tours in the Vietnam War.

Langston was a joker, his daughter said, but also had a strong work ethic and sense of right and wrong.

"He would say, 'This happened, and nobody has tried to do a thing?' My husband would say, 'What's wrong? What's wrong with you? Not trying to do a thing, not one thing about it.'"

Gagne said he had one thing to say before deferring all other comment to his lawyer, Robert Smith of Goldsboro.

"Before you publicize it, just for the record, I have not yet been found guilty, I have never been cited by the state. So they better get their stuff straight," Gagne said.

District Attorney Branny Vickory could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday morning.