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Records show 19 traffic deaths in 2018

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A motorcyclist died after his bike struck a pickup on June 8 on Pactolus Highway in front of Hardee's Recycling north of Greenville. The death was among 20 on Pitt County roads last year.


By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Nineteen people were killed in 18 traffic crashes in Pitt County in 2018, down from 20 in 2017 according to crash report data and conversations between law enforcement officials and The Daily Reflector.  

Ten of the crashes took place in Pitt County and eight occurred in Greenville. 

When it comes to crashes, Greenville Police Sgt. Mike Ross, who heads up the traffic safety unit, said that in addition to not driving distracted, drivers should use turning lanes as they are intended to be used. 

Major points of traffic jams, according to Ross, include Arlington Boulevard, Greenville Boulevard and Charles Boulevard which have center turn lanes that drivers misuse.

“Often times people use these as merge lanes and that’s not what they are intended for,” Ross said. “Traffic backs up and people want to make a left turn at an intersection and they’ll just get in this one lane way too early and use it as a travel lane when its intended to be a turn lane. That’s kind of where the engineering piece falls in.”

Ross added that The Greenville Police Department has formed a traffic safety task force to come up with ways to engineer solutions to the problem.  

“We collaborate on how we can make safety improvements through engineering as well as through enforcement,” Ross said.  We have a lot of people making left turns causing crashes.  

Ross added that the approach to managing crashes is also data-driven and as such, problem areas are identified and then measures are taken to proactively prevent accidents in those areas.  One example is strobe lights at crosswalks which have been installed near East Carolina University.

“We’re continuing to identify areas that need engineering improvement and also enforcement as well,” Ross said.

Overwhelmingly, Ross said that people need to exercise patience when traveling down roads.         

“People have to be aware of their surroundings and have to be patient given the makeup of the roads and the volume of traffic we have here,” Ross said.  

Pitt County has consistently has ranked among North Carolina’s most dangerous counties for car collisions in an annual list compiled by AAA Carolinas Motor Club.

Authorities said speed and distracted driving seem to contribute to many of the crashes.

Three pedestrians died in 2018, one of whom was the owner of a carnival who was killed the day before it opened. The other two pedestrians were the victim of hit and runs.

In addition, two motorcyclists died along with an elderly Grifton couple and two Pitt County teenagers.  

The following details about last year’s fatal wrecks are from crash reports and information gathered at the time.   

■ A Tarboro woman died Nov. 17 following a crash that took place around 7:28 p.m. at the intersection of U.S. 264 and N.C. 43, near Greenville. Jennie Sessoms, 61, was the front seat passenger of a Buick Lacrosse driven by Angela Edmonson, 56, of Tarboro. While heading east down an off-ramp at Exit 75, Edmonson failed to stop for a stop sign and was struck on the driver’s side by a Mercedes SUV driven by Norma Warren, 56, of Greenville. Warren’s Mercedes was traveling southbound on N.C. 43 towards Greenville.

■ A Winterville man died Oct. 24 in a head-on crash after his 2015 Toyota  crossed the centerline and struck a 2019 Dodge Ram truck around 1:57 p.m. on Forlines Road near South Central High School.  According to the crash report, Ronnie Earl Cox, 49, was killed when he collided with a truck driven by David Hill of Antioch.

■ James Michael Alligood, 28, of Chocowinity died Oct. 12 from injuries sustained in a single car crash near N.C. 33.  The crash happened at 5:13 a.m. and speed was a factor according to State Highway Patrol officials. The official crash report was unavailable online.   

■ A Grifton couple along with a Washington man died July 6 around 1:56 p.m. in a crash nine miles south of Ayden on N.C. 102. Eugene Powell Fleming, 91, was driving his 2005 Chevrolet truck when he crossed the center line, overcorrected and ran off the road to the right. When he ran off the road, his vehicle struck and killed Charles Edward Garris Jr, 53, of Washington who was standing beside a 2006 Nissan truck. After striking Garris, Fleming’s truck sideswiped Garris’s truck before overturning several times. Fleming died after being ejected from the vehicle Fleming’s wife, Geraldine “Gerry” Gay Fleming, 89, who was a passenger in the truck, died from her injuries.

■ A man fled the scene after striking and killing a pedestrian who was in the roadway of North Memorial Drive near West Gum Road on June 16.  Charles Benjamin Smith Jr., 25, of Greenville, was hit around 1:15 a.m. by a 2012 Chrysler driven by Steven Jerome Keel, 33, of Greenville.  Keel left the scene but was located and arrested a short time later and charged with a felony hit-and-run-death and operating a vehicle with no insurance, the Greenville Police Department reported.

■ A Greenville man died after he crashed his 2003 Buick June 10 around 8:34 p.m. near Oakley Road near Greenville.  According to the crash report, Clifton Earl Parker was traveling East on Oakley Road and rounding a curve when he crossed the centerline, ran off the road to the right, struck a ditch and overturned.

■ A Vanceboro man was killed on his way home from work June 8 around 6:24 p.m. after a truck pulled out in front of him as he was traveling East on N.C. 33 and Pactolus Highway in Greenville. State Trooper Scott Tyndall said Kenneth Braswell, 58, of Greenville who was driving a 1989 Ford truck was attempting to make a left turn onto Pactolus Road in front of Hardee’s Recycling and failed to yield to an oncoming 2005 Kawasaki motorcycle being driven by Orlando Perez, 46. Tyndall said Perez’s eastbound motorcycle struck the front driver’s side of Braswell’s truck, killing Perez near Old Creek Road.

■ A Greenville man on who was driving a farm tractor was killed May 1 when an SUV hit the tractor from behind on N.C. 11 in northern Pitt County, the State Highway Patrol reported. The wreck occurred about 9:17 a.m. near Allpine-Taylor Road between Bethel and Greenville, according to Trooper Michael Potter. Carlton Jackson Jr., 47, was traveling south on the highway in a Nissan SUV when he ran into the rear of a slow-moving tractor operated by Manga Wooten, 72, Potter said. The collision threw Wooten from the tractor and he died from his injuries on scene, Potter said. Jackson, of Long Ridge Road in Pinetown, was charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle and felony failure to reduce speed and reckless driving.

■ A head-on crash killed a Greenville teenager on Fifth Street near Green Springs Park on May 8 the Greenville Police Department reported. Dan Kenneth Wooten III, 19, was driving east in the 2500 block of East Fifth Street about 5:45 a.m. when the crash happened, police reported. A Chevrolet Silverado pickup driven by 50-year-old Gerald Lee Outlaw of Windsor was traveling in the westbound lane.  Outlaw’s truck collided with Wooten’s Ford Econoline van. The impact of the crash caused Wooten’s van to overturn.

■ A Rocky Mount man died while driving his Monster Moto minibike the wrong direction down Bs Barbecue Road and MacGregor Downs Road on May 2. Franklin Otto Parker Jr., 35, was traveling in the oncoming traffic lane with no lights on and traveled into the path of a GMC pickup truck being driven by 22-year-old Keith Robert Gaier of Greenville about 10:15 p.m. Gaier told Greenville Police officers he attempted to swerve to avoid crashing into the bike but was unsuccessful.

■ A Bethel woman was struck and killed while walking along U.S. 64 between March 31 and April 1. Taryn Rae Moyer, 22, of Bethel was struck and killed sometime on March 31 along U.S. 64 by a 2001 Dodge truck being driven by Cher Jeanene Nicholson, 51, of Bethel. Her body was discovered on April 1. Nicholson was arrested and charged with felony hit-and-run resulting in death. 

■ A 74-year-old Ayden man was killed April 13 after a driver in a truck ran a stop sign and struck his vehicle. Albert Toler died after a 2004 GMC truck struck his 1994 Ford Explorer, causing him to lose control, crash into a ditch and overturn at 4:36 p.m. The crash happened on Old Snow Hill Road and Pleasant Plains Road, just outside of Ayden. The other driver, 16-year-old Jesus Angel Sanchez of Greenville, was transported by Grifton EMS to Vidant Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries. Sanchez was arrested and charged with a stop sign violation and misdemeanor death by motor vehicle.

■ A Greenville woman died two months following a head on crash that took place on April 8 around 2:35 p.m. on Mobley’s Bridge Road. Linda Brooks Sims of Greenville was driving her 2007 Toyota passenger car eastbound on Mobley’s Bridge Road when a westbound 2006 Toyota passenger car driven by Timothy Earl Little of Greenville, crossed the centerline and struck Sims’ vehicle head-on. Sims died April 8. Little was charged with driving left of center.

■ A Bethel teen died on March 24 after he crashed his mother’s Toyota Camry into an 18-wheeler around 1:24 a.m. Xzavier Blango, 18, died after his mother’s Toyota Camry collided with an 18-wheeler at the intersection of Memorial Drive and Staton House Road. The driver of the truck, 37-year-old Kelvin Dunn of Rocky Mount, was traveling southbound on Memorial Drive and making a U-turn at the intersection of Staton Road, when Blango failed to reduce speed and collided into the back of the truck.

■ A 26-year-old Greenville man was killed in a single-car wreck on Stantonsburg Road near U.S. 264 on March 16, the State Highway Patrol reported. Davante Moore, 26, of 201 B Lynnbeth Drive was killed shortly after 11 p.m., a patrol official said. Moore’s red Pontiac passenger car traveled left of center, ran off the road to the right, overturned and struck an embankment.

■ A single-car wreck at Elm and East Sixth Street on March 3 killed a Washington man and injured his passenger, the Greenville Police Department reported. The wreck occurred about 4:40 a.m., according to a news release from Lt. David Bowen. The 1994 Honda passenger car ran off the road, struck some parked cars and overturned. The driver of the vehicle was identified as Julio Espinoza, 23, who died on scene.  Wesley Maldonado, 28, of Pinetown, was the passenger. Maldonado was transported to Vidant Medical Center to be treated for serious injuries.The preliminary cause of the crash is indicated as excessive speed.

■ A visiting carnival owner was struck and killed while crossing Memorial Drive and Greenville Boulevard on Feb. 21 near the Greenville Grande Theatre. Edward Inners Jr. 68, of Franklinton, who owned Inners Shows was killed around 8:04 p.m after being struck by an eastbound 2003 Toyota passenger car driven by Emma Weis, 18, of Raleigh. Inners was pronounced dead at the scene. Weis told troopers she did not see Inners until he stepped out in front of her.She was not charged in the incident. 

■ A Greenville man died after striking another vehicle head on near Old Pactolus Road and Tupper Drive on Feb 12. William Joey Horton was traveling Northwest on Old Pactolus Road in his 2004 Dodge SUV around 5:38 p.m. and crossed the centerline and while attempting to swerve back into his lane, struck a 2012 Honda passenger car driven by Brandon Christopher Carlton of Greenville.  Carlton’s vehicle ended up on its right side and Horton’s Dodge spun into a ditch before coming to rest. Horton later succumbed to his injuries. The crash report indicates speed was a factor and both drivers swerved to avoid hitting each other.   

In addition to fatal car crashes, there were at least two fatalities, one involving a medical emergency and another being a workplace accident in Greenville.     

■ A Greenville man had a heart attack and crashed his car into a train signal post near North Greene Street and Mumford Road Aug 9. The man, Raymond Earl Daniels was driving a Hyundai Accent, when he went into cardiac arrest shortly before 12:30 p.m.  According to Greenville Police Lt. Scott Stanton, the man initially ran a red light before striking a railroad signal pole. Daniels was found unresponsive and efforts to revive him were unsuccessful. 

■ A construction worker was killed July 12 when he was struck by a dump truck shortly before 5 p.m.  in a residential neighborhood off of Frog Level Road, officials said. The man was identified as 57-year-old Mark Davis. Davis was part of a construction crew extending Tifgreen Drive.