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Fatal crash not weather related

AHOSKIE – Winter weather is not to blame for a pre-dawn accident near here Wednesday that claimed the life of a Gates County woman.

North Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper Ricky West said that 48-year-old Eloise Britt of Joy Lane, Gates, died as a result of a single-vehicle mishap at 5:26 a.m. Wednesday just north of Ahoskie.

Britt was a front seat passenger in a 2006 Chevrolet Trailblazer driven by her husband, 51-year-old Anthony Britt. That vehicle was traveling south on NC 11 (just north of the Modlin Road intersection) when the vehicle crossed the centerline and ran off the left side of the roadway where it struck a tree and overturned.

Trooper West, who investigated the crash, said the vehicle collided with the tree on its passenger’s side, thusly trapping Mrs. Britt inside. Both she and her husband were wearing seat belts at the time of the accident.

“Evidence at scene and a subsequent interview with the driver of the vehicle leads investigators to believe that the driver fell asleep,” North Carolina Highway Patrol Troop A, District II First Sgt. Todd Lane said. “This accident was not related to the winter weather we experienced early Wednesday morning.”

The recent rash of motor vehicles fatalities (the second in the district in four days) has Sgt. Lane concerned.

“This recent rash of fatalities comes on the heels of a 2008 calendar year where we saw a 19 percent reduction in the number of fatalities experienced in this district,” Sgt. Lane observed. The 17 fatal collisions in 2008 was the lowest number of fatals in the past five years.”

Sgt. Lane was quick to point out why the 2008 motor vehicle fatality rate in the district (Bertie, Gates and Hertford counties) was lower.

“The success we saw in reducing these collisions was the result of a strong enforcement program on behalf of the troopers working the highways and the driving public voluntarily practicing safe driving habits,” he noted. “Our goal is to experience a year without having a fatal collision occurring. While this goal may not be realistic, we will continue to strive to make the highways as safe as possible through education and enforcement.”

Still, Sgt. Lane pointed to the five fatalities thus far this year in the district, four of which have occurred in Hertford County.

“In times where we experience a rash of fatalities, it becomes a necessity for the motoring public to address their driving habits to ensure they are being as safe as possible,” Sgt. Lane said. “It is also a good time for parents to address safe driving habits with their teenage drivers. We urge everyone to make proper use of their seat safety belts; reduce their speeds and avoid alcohol when driving.”