Lawrence student dies in wreck

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 30, 2007

MIDWAY – One Lawrence Academy student lost his life and another was injured in a single-car mishap near here Friday night.

Blake Douglas Hodges, 17, of Plymouth was killed instantly as the result of a wreck on RP 1361 (Jeff White Road) near NC 45, according to a report filed by North Carolina State Highway Patrol Trooper Angel Genao.

The trooper said speed greatly exceeding the posted limit was the cause of the accident, which occurred shortly past 11 p.m.

A passenger, 16-year-old Kathryn Gilbert of Hertford, was injured. Her medical condition is unknown.

“We would ask parents to sit down with their driving age children and reiterate the message of safe driving so that tragedies such as this can be adverted in the future,” Sgt. Todd Lane of the Highway Patrol’s Troop A, District II office in Ahoskie said.

Trooper Genao’s investigation of the accident showed that Hodges was operating a 2005 Subaru passenger car west on the Jeff White Road. The car entered a curve at a high rate of speed, traveled off the right side of the roadway where it impacted a culvert, flipped several times, struck some tree branches and came to rest on its wheels on the left hand shoulder of the road.

The trooper’s report showed both Hodges and Gilbert were wearing seat belts and that the driver’s side and passenger’s side airbags deployed.

While the safety devices worked in this accident, the fact that a young life was lost was upsetting to Sgt. Lane.

“This incident exemplifies why we try to spend so much time in our schools where we focus on safe driving habits,” he said. “This tragedy not only affects the community, but will have an ever-lasting affect on the young people who know Blake Hodges.”

Lane added that Trooper Raines of the Ahoskie office had just recently spent the day at Lawrence Academy educating the students on how to stay safe on the road.

“I was at Ridgecroft School just last week discussing the same issues with the students there,” Sgt. Lane said. “The Highway Patrol will continue to make every possible effort to educate young people in the communities we serve on the virtues of safe driving habits and making healthy decisions when getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.”

The fatality was the eighth of the year within Bertie, Gates and Hertford counties, half of which occurred during the month of April. Of the eight, three have been in Bertie County.