Teen dies; friend seriously injured
A 19-year-old teen was killed Wednesday at about 2:08 a.m. and his 20-year-old friend was critically injured in a single vehicle crash off Bostic-Sunshine Highway.
Matthew Scott Lail, 19, of Magnolia Street in Forest City died at the scene and C.J. Sappenfield, 20, of Bostic, was injured when the 1998 Honda Civic crashed. Sappenfield was airlifted to Spartanburg Regional Medical Center where he underwent surgery. He was listed in serious condition Wednesday afternoon in the neurotrauma intensive care unit.
Both youths were ejected from the vehicle.
They were traveling north on Bostic Sunshine Highway about 2.5 miles from Washburn General Store, when it appeared the car traveled to the edge of the road on the right side, said Sgt. Kevin Owens of the NCHP.
"Maybe he realized he was about to run off the road and overcorrected and crossed the highway, ran off the left side, hit a culvert, and overturned several times," Owens said.
The car came to a rest on its wheels after it rolled at least five times, into one private yard and crossed into another.
The car traveled 408 feet after the driver began to lose control. Lail was thrown about 178 feet from the vehicle and Sappenfield was thrown about 90 feet from the car. Debris from the car was scattered over the sides of the road and into the yards.
The North Carolina Highway Patrol is continuing the investigation to determine who was driving the vehicle, which was owned by Sappenfield.
The friends were not wearing seat belts, were traveling at an excessive speed and alcohol was involved, said North Carolina trooper Thad Condrey.
"There are the 'Big 3' factors in accidents," Condrey said at the scene Wednesday afternoon. "One is speed, another is not wearing seat belts and the other is alcohol involvement. Any one of those factors could cause a serious accident, but where there are all three involved, it is devastating." Condrey said. He also said the youths were less experienced drivers which are also factors in car crashes.
The highway patrol said the car was traveling at least 80 mph in a 55 mph speed limit.
Bostic-Sunshine Highway resident Mona Arrowood said she was awakened by the crash. "It sounded like a wreck and when I ran outside, I saw the car," Arrowood said. She called 911 and then went back outdoors. "We went to the car and they were not in it. I ran back inside and called 911 again and told them to hurry because they weren't in the car," Arrowood said.
Owens said it is not known where the youths were headed.
One friend said Lail and Sappenfield attended the East Rutherford baseball game Tuesday night and were congratulating teammates.
They were both graduates of East Rutherford High School where they played sports.
Owens said he called East Rutherford principal Brad Teague early Wednesday and told him of the news since Lail and Sappenfield's mothers are teachers there.
Teague met with the East staff and counselors and the school observed a moment of silence when the school day began.
Investigating officers at the crash scene were Trooper B.Y. Hill and Owens.