Child thrown from car, 5 hurt in accident at Deal, Unity Church intersection

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 2, 2011

By Mark Wineka
ATWELL TOWNSHIP — A grinding wreck Saturday afternoon at Deal and Unity Church roads injured five people, including two young children, and renewed neighbors’ call for safety improvements at the intersection.
Helicopters from Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte flew the injured children, a 4-year-old boy and his 2-year-old sister, from the scene.
A couple, driving in a Honda Accord, and the children’s mother, driving a Mitsubishi Mirage, also were hurt.
For Rowan County, the accident ushered in a July Fourth holiday weekend in which the N.C. State Highway Patrol is stepping up its enforcement measures across the state. Troopers’ focus is on interstates and major four-lane highways.
Terry Walton, who works at the Camp Wesley Grocery at the intersection, said he heard the 3:59 p.m. crash and looked out in time to see 4-year-old Addison Lambert thrown from the four-door Mirage and sliding under a pickup in the store’s parking lot.
Avery Lambert, 2, reportedly was hanging out one of the car’s back windows when it came to rest.
“They need to put a light or something up here,” Walton said. “Slow them down through here.”
Trooper M.T. Eason of the State Highway Patrol said the 2001 Mirage, driven by Chassity Stanley, 26, of Kannapolis, was westbound on Unity Church Road when it failed to yield at the Deal Road stop sign.
The Mirage traveled into the path of an Accord driven by Erica Brown, 25, of Statesville, whose car was heading south on Deal Road. The Accord hit the Mirage on the passenger side.
Stanley’s children were taken in separate helicopters to CMC in Charlotte, while their mother was taken there by ambulance. The children suffered cuts to their heads, but Eason said they were not in critical condition.
Stanley’s chest hurt from her car’s air bag and seat belt.
Eason said the children were secured in the back seat in booster seats, though those seats were undersized for each one of them. He charged Stanley with failure to yield and not having the children in weight-appropriate child safety seats.
Jonathan James, 39, of Nebo, was a passenger in Brown’s Accord. Both he and Brown complained of chest soreness from airbags and seat belts. They were taken to CMC-NorthEast Medical Center.
Adam Richardson and his wife, Skylar, were backing their vehicle out of the driveway within sight of the intersection when they heard the crash and rushed to help.
“It’s about the fourth one in two months,” Richardson complained. “This is definitely one of the worst (intersections.)”
Richardson said the N.C. Department of Transportation should install a four-way stop sign with a flashing red light.
Skylar Richardson and another woman tended to the young boy until emergency responders with Atwell Fire Department and Rowan County EMS arrived.
Adam Richardson said the boy appeared to have a head injury, though both children were conscious and responsive. The medical helicopters landed in a field across from the Camp Wesley store.
“The little boy kept asking for a teddy bear,” said Kenny Bare, who heard the crash from his house. Bare was able to retrieve the bear from the Mirage before Addison Lambert was taken away.
Other neighbors gathering at the store after the accident agreed it’s a dangerous intersection that needs attention. Traffic traveling on Unity Church Road has a stop sign in both directions. The speed limit on Deal Road is 45 mph, but people who live around here said vehicles go a lot faster.
The same intersection claimed the life of 20-year-old Krista Marie Cook of Enochville Dec. 9, 2008, when she drove past the same Unity Church Road stop sign and her car was hit on the passenger side by a large pickup.
Dennis and Libby Buchanan, who live within sight of the corner, said they see wrecks at the intersection regularly and were even involved in one themselves.
Bare said he has noticed that many of the accidents involve drivers who are not from this community and probably are unfamiliar with the intersection.
“The main thing is that this is a 45 mph road,” said Lynnette Corriher, who lives next to the store, but no one adheres to that speed limit. Deal Road is a main route to the Mooresville dragway, Corriher noted, and on Thursday nights especially, motorcycles headed for the drag strip fly down the road.
For accident reporting purposes, the July Fourth holiday began at 6 p.m. Friday and ends at midnight Monday.
Last year in North Carolina, 18 people died and 471 were injured over the July Fourth holiday period.
The highway patrol says speed is the leading cause of traffic collisions and fatalities in the state.
Citizens may report crashes, drunk drivers, stranded motorists or other highway situations to the highway patrol by dialing *HP (*47) on their cellular telephones. This is a toll-free call that connects the caller with the nearest Highway Patrol communications center.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.