Deadly Fourth

Published 7:57 am Tuesday, July 7, 2015

GATESVILLE – It took exactly six months for the initial traffic fatality to occur for 2015 in Gates County; and the first was quickly followed by another.

The North Carolina Highway Patrol office in Ahoskie is reporting a pair of motor vehicle fatalities to occur over the July 4th holiday weekend.

The first came on Saturday, July 4 and stemmed from the injuries sustained by the driver of a moped that was involved in a Wednesday, July 1 mishap.

That accident took place on RP 1308 (Drum Hill Road) at 4:16 p.m. There, 59-year-old Ronnie Lee Bradshaw of 241 Drum Hill Road was operating a moped in the westbound lane.

“For some unknown reason, the moped overturned in the roadway,” said NCHP First Sgt. Mike Warren. “There was no evidence at the scene or on the damage to the moped that leads us to believe that Mr. Bradshaw was struck by another vehicle or if he had swerved in an attempt to miss an object in the roadway.”

Warren said Bradshaw was ejected from the moped and landed in the westbound lane of Drum Hill Road. He was airlifted to Norfolk Sentara Hospital where he underwent surgery and was listed in critical condition.

On Saturday afternoon, NCHP Trooper J.G. Williams, who investigated the accident, received a phone call from Norfolk Sentara, saying that Bradshaw had died due to the injuries sustained in the crash.

In his report made at the time of the accident, Williams had noted that alcohol was believed to be a contributing factor in the crash.

Roughly 12 hours after the report of Bradshaw’s death, another traffic fatality occurred in Gates County, this one occurring at 2:06 a.m. Sunday on US 13 just south of Shoup’s Landing Road, near the foot of the Thad Eure Bridge over the Chowan River.

According to a report filed by NCHP Trooper A.S. Genao, Travis Ricks, 35, of Nashville died after the 2006 Pontiac passenger car he was operating ran off the right side of the road, at which time the driver overcorrected, causing the vehicle to cross the centerline and exit the roadway to the left where the car crashed into a tree.

Ricks and his passenger, 48-year-old Gregory Scott of Rocky Mount, were traveling south at the time of the single vehicle accident.

At some point after impacting the tree, the vehicle caught fire.

“Sgt. Robert Jordan of the Gates County Sheriff’s Office heard the rescue and fire call and rushed to the scene,” said First Sgt. Warren. “He was able to pull the passenger, Mr. Scott, to safety before the vehicle was consumed by flames. Unfortunately, Mr. Ricks was still inside the vehicle and due to the severity of the fire and the damage caused by the vehicle striking the tree, he was unable to be rescued.”

Scott was airlifted and flown to VidantMedicalCenter in Greenville with serious injuries.

Warren said based on evidence at the scene, speed is a contributing factor to the accident.

“We’re doing all we can to beef up our presence on our local roads in an effort to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities,” said First Sgt. Warren. “Motorists traveling on our local roads can help as well by making wise decisions to refrain from drinking and driving, obeying the speed limit, and always remembering to buckle up their seat belt. The first two things will greatly reduce your chances of being involved in a collision; while the latter will improve your chances of survival should you be involved in an auto accident.”

The latest two deaths brought the total to seven traffic related fatalities reported in 2015 in the NCHP’s Troop A/District II area, which includes Bertie, Gates and Hertford counties.

There were 10 fatal accidents reported by the NCHP statewide during the July 4th holiday period. The holiday weekend officially began at 6 p.m. on Friday, July 3, and ended at 11:59 p.m., Sunday, July 5.

One was Friday night, July 3, in nearby HalifaxCounty on NC 4 just south of Littleton. There, reported that 57-year-old Carlton Lee Burgess of Roanoke Rapids was killed when his vehicle went left of the center line and struck a ditch.  The vehicle’s passenger’s side then struck a tree.

Burgess had to be extricated from the vehicle. He was initially taken to Halifax Regional Medical Center and then to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville where he died early Saturday morning.

NCHP Trooper R.P. Dennis said alcohol use is suspected in that fatal accident.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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