Man badly injured in crash
By Steve Huffman
ROCKWELL ó An elderly man was airlifted Tuesday from the scene of a traffic accident at a busy rural intersection in eastern Rowan County.
Zebulon Vance Crayton, 77, of Stanfield, was in critical condition Tuesday night at Carolinas Medical Center.
The accident happened about 3:15 p.m. at the intersection of Old Beatty Ford and Emanuel Church roads.
According to the N.C. Highway Patrol, the 2004 Toyota Camry in which Crayton was a passenger was traveling south on Emanuel Church Road when it ran a stop sign and struck a truck heading east on Old Beatty Ford Road.
The Camry was driven by Crayton’s son-in-law, William Archie Vanhoy, 48, also of Stanfield. In the passenger-side front seat was his wife, Vinita Vanhoy, 47.
In the back seat beside Crayton was his wife, Gladys Tomberlin Hathcock, 82. She was taken first to Rowan Regional Medical Center before being transported to Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center where her condition was undetermined late Tuesday.
The truck, a 2003 Kenworth belonging to Trexler Trucking of Gold Hill, was driven by Matthew Wayne Propst, 36, of Agner Road, Salisbury.
The investigating officer, Trooper C.J. Doty of the N.C. Highway Patrol, said Propst was not responsible for the accident.
“The car ran the stop sign,” Doty said. “The car actually ran into the side of the truck.”
He said he didn’t think charges would be filed, but said his report would indicate that Vanhoy was at fault. He said Vanhoy told him that he’d traveled the area as a boy, and at the time motorists traveling Emanuel Church Road had the right of way while drivers on Old Beatty Ford Road had to stop.
Several local residents said that was true, noting that the stop sign was changed from Old Beatty Ford Road to Emanuel Church Road about 20 years ago.
Both Vanhoy and his wife were treated and released at Carolinas Medical Center-NorthEast.
The truck that Propst was driving is a tractor that pulled a long trailer used to carry gravel.
Jim Trexler, who owns Trexler Trucking with his brother, Doug, drove to the scene immediately after learning of the wreck. He said he worried that members of the public would see pictures of the wreck and assume his driver was at fault.
Trexler asked that a story about the accident emphasize that that wasn’t the case. He pointed out that his truck came to a stop less than 50 yards from the point of impact, indicating Propst had the rig under control.
“Speed was not a factor,” Trexler said.
He said his drivers are trained before climbing behind the wheel of one of the company’s rigs.
“We try to preach safety,” Trexler said. “That’s the best money you can spend.”
He said his company has about 78 trucks that haul gravel to construction sites across much of the Southeast.
Neighbors to the crash site said there have been numerous accidents at the intersection, including at least one fatality there years ago.
Those same neighbors said that until a couple of months ago, there was but a single flashing light at the intersection urging motorists to use caution. Two months ago, four flashing lights were installed.
Still, James Barringer, who lives on Emanuel Church Road, said vehicles speed much too fast along Old Beatty Ford Road.
“That damn road ain’t nothing but a race track,” he said. “They come down through there, they’re flying.”
He said he was doing yard work when he heard Tuesday’s crash.
“I can’t even hear good and I hear something go, ‘Boom!’ ” Barringer said.
Walter Cook Sr., another resident of Emanuel Church Road, agreed that vehicles travel too fast along Old Beatty Ford Road.
“They’re in a hurry,” he said, “too big a hurry.”
Kathy Smith works at East Rowan High School and is a substitute bus driver for East Rowan and Erwin Middle schools.
She was stuck in traffic as the wreck site was cleared and noted that the intersection is so dangerous that bus drivers traveling Emanuel Church Road don’t take their rigs across Old Beatty Ford Road.
Instead, Smith said, they detour a bit south on a side road and turn left onto Old Beatty Ford Road. Then they head north on the road and turn right to get back onto Emanuel Church Road.
That’s considered safer, Smith said, than coming to a stop at Old Beatty Ford Road and having to cross the road from a standstill.
“That’s a scary intersection,” Smith said. “We detour to avoid crossing here. It’s just too dangerous.”
Contact Steve Huffman at 704-797-4222 or email@example.com.