Gates man dies in crash

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 15, 2007

GATESVILLE – A Gates County man is listed as the Roanoke-Chowan area’s first traffic fatality of 2007.

Friday night, 21-year-old James Eugene Leonard III of Corapeake died during a one-vehicle accident on Drum Hill Road (RP 1308) in north central portion of Gates County.

According to a report filed by North Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper A.S. Genao, Leonard was operating a 1998 Ford passenger car east on Drum Hill Road at approximately 9:53 p.m. The vehicle ran off the left side of the road, struck a ditch and culvert at which time the car became airborne. Once airborne, the car struck a tree, completing the half-rollover as the vehicle came to rest on its roof in a ditch.

Trooper Genao’s report indicated that Leonard was not wearing a seat belt and was partially ejected from the vehicle. It was apparent that Leonard died on impact.

Exceeding the posted 45 mph limit and the possible use of alcohol were listed as contributing factors to the accident in Genao’s report.

Friday’s fatality matched the number of traffic deaths reported in Gates County in all of last year. The local Highway Patrol district (Bertie, Gates and Hertford counties) reported a total of 22 motor vehicle fatalities in 2006.