Man who died in crash was scared to drive mo-ped, friends say
By Jessie Burchette
When John Lanoue lost his pickup in a wreck a few weeks ago, a friend bought him a mo-ped to get around town.
Lanoue was operating the 2008 model mo-ped Monday night when he crashed into the front of an oncoming car on Sherrills Ford Road.
The 50-year-old employee of Dollar General on Mooresville Road died at the scene.
A friend of Lanoue’s said he had had the mo-ped for little more than a week.
“He was scared of it,” said Savannah Menius, of the Statesville Boulevard Dollar General. When Lanoue moved into a new apartment, she drove the mo-ped there because he didn’t want to, she said.
Lanoue and other employees got off work at 9:30 p.m at the Mooresville Road store.
Priscilla Sigler, manager, was about five minutes behind Lanoue headed west on Sherrills Ford Road.
When she saw the wreck, she immediately realized it was John.
“He was an excellent, super nice guy,” Sigler said. He had worked as a stocker at the store since July.
“We’re all taking it pretty hard,” she said, referring to the other Dollar General employees.
They don’t know why he crossed over into the eastbound lane of Sherrills Ford Road into the path of the oncoming Honda.
At the wreck scene, she said some people claimed he had pulled out and tried to pass a car also going westbound.
“I don’t believe that. Mo-peds don’t go that fast,” Sigler said, adding that she believes he must have been hit from behind and knocked into the path of the car.
Sigler said his son is flying here from Texas and is scheduled to arrive today.
The N.C. Highway Patrol officially identified Lanoue as the victim late Tuesday.
First Sgt. B.E. Hower said officials had had difficulty contacting next of kin and were told that his only surviving relative, a son, had died two months ago. Later, they learned the son was alive.
Hower said investigators don’t know why Lanoue was on the wrong side of the road. “That’s the million-dollar question.”
Trooper M.E. Heon, the investigating officer, said late Tuesday that he has no clue why Lanoue was driving on the wrong side of the road. A witness said the mo-ped veered off to the left into the path of the 2006 Honda Civic driven by John Lindley, 32, of1440 Majolica Road. A passenger in the vehicle, Laura Casner, 26, of the same address, was transported to Rowan Regional Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.
Trooper Heon said there was no evidence of excessive speed by the Honda nor any indication of alcohol use by Lanoue.
He estimated the damage to the Honda at $8,000. The impact with the mo-ped deployed the airbags.