Mom upset over accident involving underage driver

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Steve Huffman
ROCKWELL ó A Rockwell mother is upset that her 12-year-old son was involved in a traffic accident last week.
The driver of the car was one of his 13-year-old friends.
Mary Kindler said she’s trying to find out if the only adult in the vehicle, Patty Lynn Leonard, 42, of Rockwell, is going to be charged.
Kindler said she went to the Rowan County Magistrate’s Office last week to see what charges she might file against Leonard. She said the magistrate told her that no charges could be filed until the N.C. Highway Patrol finished its investigation of the accident.
Kindler said she’s been trying to find out if the investigating trooper, C.M. Agner, is going to charge Leonard. But she said Agner won’t return her calls.
Agner didn’t return several phone calls from the Post last week. On Monday, a spokesman for the Highway Patrol said Agner wouldn’t return to work until Friday.
“We just want to see that justice is done, so she doesn’t do this again,” Kindler said of Leonard.
The accident happened about 8 p.m. last Tuesday on Eller Road, close to where Kindler and her son, Michael Dylan Atherton, live. According to an accident report, a 13-year-old male was driving the ’99 Mazda and ran off the right side of the road and into a ditch where the car overturned.
There were apparently no serious injuries, though 14-year-old Alex Wesley Sadler, who was in the back seat with Atherton, suffered a broken rib and a punctured lung. He was hospitalized overnight.
Atherton said he suffered injuries to his neck and left arm.
The boys, both students at Erwin Middle School, said they’d ridden with Leonard to a birthday party for a friend. They said that on the way home, the woman asked the 13-year-old who was in the front seat with her if he wanted to drive the car. The boy agreed.
Atherton and Sadler said the boy began jerking the wheel of the car back and forth, then lost control.
Atherton and Sadler both said they tried to get out of the car prior to the accident and even told their friend to stop. He responded, Sadler said, by mashing the gas pedal to the floor and driving faster.
First Sgt. B.E. Hower of the Highway Patrol said he wasn’t familiar with the accident. He said Agner may be conferring with Rowan County District Attorney Bill Kenerly concerning possible charges against Leonard.