Visibility questioned in fatal crash

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 19, 2003

WOODLAND – For the great majority of motorists, the Pinetops crossroads on US 258 in Northampton County is nothing more than a blur as they zip past. However, for a few residents of this quiet community, tucked in the northeastern corner of the county, there was an accident waiting to happen at that intersection.

That accident occurred exactly one week ago where a Northampton County High School-East student lost his life in a two-vehicle crash. Robbie Dampier, 15, was killed when the car in which he was a passenger allegedly failed to yield the right of way at the intersection and was struck by another vehicle.

Prior to that deadly night, Pinetops residents had voiced their concerns to county and state officials in regards to what they called &uot;a blind spot&uot; at the intersection. They all agreed that vehicles parked at a residence near the intersection were too close to US 258, thus creating a visibility problem when looking north.

According to the report filed by Trooper Troy Wood with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, Adam Barnes, 20, of Woodland – the driver of a 1986 Honda in which Dampier was a passenger – was heading west on Pinetops Road (SR 1542). He apparently stopped at the intersection and then proceeded into the path of another vehicle, traveling from north to south on US 258.

&uot;I have to inch out into the intersection so I can see what’s coming from the Murfreesboro way (looking north from the crossroads),&uot; said Blanche Bryant, a lifelong resident of the Pinetops community. &uot;It’s dangerous….very dangerous. I feel so bad for the family who lost their son there last week and for all the others who were in the wreck.&uot;

By Saturday morning, Bryant said she noticed the parked vehicles in question still remained, but had been moved further away from the intersection of Pinetops Road and US 258.

&uot;Even with two of us in the car looking, you have stretch your neck to see if the coast is clear,&uot; said Mary Ledden, another resident of the Pinetops community. &uot;It’s sad that someone had to lose their life there, but you could almost feel it was going to happen one day.&uot;

Sgt. J.D. Dodson with the State Highway Patrol office in Roanoke Rapids verified that &uot;site visibility&uot; complaints have been received from motorists using the intersection. He said those complaints were under investigation. However, he stated that visibility problems did not appear to have been a contributing factor on the night of the accident.

Sgt. Dodson said the accident remained under investigation and charges were pending.

Donielle McDermott of Woodland, the driver of the vehicle that struck the Honda, along with three passengers in her 1997 Jeep were treated and released later on the night of the accident from Halifax Regional Medical Center in Roanoke Rapids.

Barnes was transported to Roanoke-Chowan Hospital in Ahoskie from where he was later airlifted to Pitt Memorial Hospital in Greenville. He remains hospitalized, listed in &uot;good&uot; condition.