Midway wreck claims life

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 22, 2005

MIDWAY – An early morning accident here Sunday claimed the life of a Bertie County man.

Brian Wilbur Pratt, 36, of Merry Hill lost his life during a single-vehicle crash on the Jeff White Road (RP 1361) at approximately 1:36 a.m. on Sunday.

The Jeff White Road connects with NC 45 in Midway.

According to a report filed by North Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper J.W. Lamb, Pratt was operating a 1993 Jeep Cherokee west on RP 1361 at the time of the accident.

Lamb’s report revealed that Pratt’s vehicle ran off the right side of the road in a curve. He apparently overcorrected the ensuing skid and the vehicle crossed over the eastbound lane and eventually struck a ditch and two trees.

Pratt was not wearing a seat belt, according to Lamb’s report.

There were no contributing factors to the cause of the accident other than the vehicle running off the road.

On Monday morning, a two-vehicle crash in Gates County involving drivers and passengers from Virginia sent three to a Suffolk hospital.

North Carolina State Trooper N.L. Harrison and Gates County Sheriff Edward E. Webb and his deputies responded at 8:50 a.m. to the scene of the crash at the intersection of U.S. 13 and Paige Riddick Road.

According to Sheriff Webb, the driver of a 1990 Honda CRX totaled the vehicle and had to be extracted from it when Webb and other volunteers of the Gates County Rescue Squad used tools to cut him free of the wreckage.

“He had been to East Carolina University to see his girlfriend over the weekend and he was trying to get back to Tidewater to go to work,” Sheriff Webb explained. “It was raining hard and it was foggy and speed was definitely a factor in this crash.”

Sheriff Webb said the 24-year old Chesapeake man attempted to pass eight vehicles as he sped along Route 13.

“This was a terrible accident and he is alive only because he had buckled his seat belt,” said the sheriff.

The highway’s north and southbound lanes were both backed up for more than a mile as cars had to use only the northbound lane to travel. Flashing blue and red lights were up and down both sides of the highway as volunteer rescue personnel came to assist even though some were just arriving home from jobs where they had worked all night.

Trooper Harrison said that when the Honda crashed, it slammed into a Chevrolet full-size pickup truck driven by a man from Norfolk.

Harrison said the Honda was passing those eight vehicles on a double yellow line and at the intersection of Paige Riddick Road and U.S. 13.

According to Sheriff Webb, the man is charged with careless and reckless driving among other similar charges.

Webb said from his observations, the Honda driver had both femurs broken and several other injuries, possibly internally.

The pickup driver and a passenger both suffered injuries and they were also transported to Obici Hospital in Suffolk, Va. The pickup truck sustained $5,000 in damage to the front end.

Sheriff Webb said Monday that U.S. 13 is dangerous enough on a good day, much less when it’s pouring rain. He said people should drive accordingly in precipitation.

“Also, we’re getting into the holidays and U.S. 13 is very dangerous, and now that the holidays are here, we caution everyone about drinking and driving,” said Webb. “Gates County and others across Northeastern North Carolina will have checkpoints posted at various locations. We just completed one in Camden County and we saw everything from no inspections to no seat belt and drinking and driving.”

Webb said there will be plenty more checkpoints and the frequency of the events will be stepped up as the holiday season progresses.

He also noted that the North Carolina Game Commission is checking for drinking and driving hunters.

(Staff Writer Barbara Lee Allen contributed to this story.)