Deadly crash victims identified

Published 11:04 am Tuesday, March 14, 2017


GASTON – The victims in a February 26 fatal crash have been identified as a Gaston man and woman, according to the State Highway Patrol.

Trooper S.R. Corn said the medical examiner confirmed last week that the driver of the vehicle was Robert Earl Hawkins Sr. and the passenger was Gladys Price Gray.

The medical examiner identified the couple through X-rays and medical records, Corn said.

The single-vehicle crash occurred around 2:01 a.m. on Highway 46 about 3.8 miles west of Gaston, just a few miles from the couple’s house.

It appeared, Corn said, Hawkins, 69, was going around a corner when he ran off the road to the right. He came back on the roadway, then crossed the centerline and ran off the road to the left. The vehicle collided with a ditch and as it overturned multiple times struck a line of trees.

Gaston Fire Chief Ed Porter Jr. said in a statement that units from his department were dispatched to a call of a vehicle on fire in the woods.

The vehicle was found engulfed in flames off the highway and in a wooded area. Firefighters quickly extinguished the fire and found two people perished in the flames.

The rear of the vehicle was found crushed into itself causing the fuel tank to split. The probable cause of the fire is suspected to be from the fuel tank rupture following the collision.

Autopsies were ordered by Northampton County Medical Examiner Paul Nowell for positive identification.

The cause of death, Corn said, unless a pathologist determines there was a medical condition, was the driver having an issue with negotiating the curve. Officially the cause of death is pending completion of a pathology report.

The process of learning the identities of Hawkins and Gray, 71, took a while because Corn said he was told the couple did not “have a lot of medical records.” Hawkins had not been to the dentist since 1991.

“Neither one left much of a digital footprint,” Corn said.

(Lance Martin is the Editor and Publisher of Permission was received to publish this story.)