State troopers say a 17-year-old driver apparently tried to illegally pass one of the cars involved in Friday night’s triple fatality in a no passing zone.
Jaquan King of North Thompson Street, Whiteville apparently realized too late he couldn’t pass Pearlie Brown’s car and tried to return to his lane. He struck Brown’s car near the rear fender, causing Brown’s car to to pivot and cross the center line sideways. Both cars were northbound on U.S. 701 near Gaston Sellers Road about two miles south of New Hope.
Brown’s car was T-boned by an oncoming car driven by Savannah Marie Robledo, 23, of Tabor City . Her daughter, Brittany Marie Long, 8, was a backseat passenger and died at Columbus Regional Medical Center. Another backseat passenger, Brenda Inez Acosta, 13, also died at Columbus Regional. Others were injured, though not seriously, and taken to Columbus Regional.
King is charged with three counts of death by motor vehicle. He did not have a driver’s license.
Brown, whose car came to rest on top of Robledo’s, was ejected and died at the scene. He was 78 and lived on Pine Log Road. Whiteville Rescue paramedics worked feverishly to resuscitate the children, but both succumbed to their injuries. Robledo was pinned in her car for more than 30 minutes. Williams firefighters had to be careful with the extrication because of the precarious nature of the second car resting on top of the first.
The area where the wreck occurred is an obvious no-passing zone. Two roads, Gaston Sellers Road, which heads east from U.S. 701, and Boswell Road, just a few hundred feet away, travels west, nearly intersect where the wreck occurred.
Ambulances responded from Whiteville, Chadbourn, Tabor City and Lake Waccamaw.
Whiteville Police officers blocked intersections to allow easier passage of ambulances to Columbus Regional.
Robledo underwent surgery at Columbus Regional for possible internal injuries. She also suffered severe leg fractures.