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Child survives wreck

HARRELLSVILLE – A local woman faces two felony charges and numerous motor vehicle citations after the vehicle she was operating near here crashed and overturned six times, ejecting her two-year-old child from the vehicle in the process.

Jessica Felton, 29, of Cofield was arrested Wednesday by North Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper A.S. Genao, who investigated the accident.

Genao said Felton was charged with child abuse, and serious injury by motor vehicle, both felonies. A DWI charge is rolled into the felonies, the NCHP Trooper added.

In addition, Genao issued citations to Felton for not wearing a seat belt, a child restraint ticket, driving left of center, exceeding safe speed for existing conditions, and careless and reckless driving.

Felton was jailed under a $25,000 secured bond.

According to the accident report filed by Genao, Felton was operating a 1999 Jeep northbound on NC 45 (1.2 miles south of Harrellsville) at around 10:20 p.m. on Saturday, March 11.

Genao said Felton was exceeding a safe speed at that time, causing the vehicle to travel off the right side of the road.

“She then overcorrected, at which time the vehicle came back to the left, crossing the center line and began to overturn….six times in all,” Genao said. “As the vehicle was overturning, the child was ejected and landed in the middle of the highway. The vehicle continued to the left, eventually coming to a rest on its roof in a ditch located off the southbound lane of the highway.”

Felton, who was not buckled in, was trapped inside the Jeep. She was freed through the work of members of the Harrellsville and Winton fire departments, Genao noted.

The Trooper added that a passing motorist, Deborah Higgins, spotted the child in the highway.

“She said she saw this innocent little child….bloody, naked and crying,” Genao remarked. “She picked up the child and took the little girl to the safety of her vehicle until EMS units arrived on the scene.”

Both mother and child were airlifted to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville. There, the child is still being treated for compressed vertebra, bleeding on the brain, facial bruising, and cuts and abrasions.

Felton was not seriously injured. Genao said she was released from the hospital on Sunday.

In addition to the charges lodged against Felton, Trooper Genao also cited Lee White of Cofield with aiding and abeiting a DWI driver.

The Trooper added that Hertford County DSS is also conducting an investigation in regards to possible child abuse.

“I’m so glad that this child was able to survive, but let this be an example of how failing to properly restrain a child in a vehicle has repercussions,” Genao stressed. “Our Highway Patrol district office in Ahoskie will show no mercy when it comes to handling cases where children are involved, injured or not, in automobile accidents when they are not properly restrained. We will prosecute these violators to the fullest extent of the law.”

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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