Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 30, 2013

Fred McDaniel of Woodleaf was taking his favorite — and only — grandchild to school Thursday morning when a split-second decision ended in tragedy.
Turning from Parks Road onto U.S. 70, McDaniel drove his Toyota Camry in front of an oncoming vehicle. The Ford Explorer crashed into the driver’s side of his car. McDaniel, 69, died on the scene.
Grandson Garrett Corriher, 9, was airlifted to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, where he was in fair condition Thursday evening.
Kristine Elizabeth South, 17, the driver of the SUV, was treated and released at Novant Health Rowan Medical Center.
Family members don’t know why McDaniel didn’t see the Ford Explorer that South was driving. But they do know McDaniel was with one of his favorite people.
He and his grandson were buddies, said Mike McDaniel, Fred McDaniel’s son and Garrett’s uncle.
“They spent all their time together,” Mike McDaniel said. “… That was his reason to get up in the morning.”
A picture from a few years ago shows grandfather and grandson working on a bike together, oblivious to the camera. Mike put the photo on Facebook for his father as his profile picture.
One of the few messages Fred McDaniel posted was directed to Garrett last October. “Happy Birthday Garrett. The next big birthday gift will be in six years. A CAR…”
Garrett, the son of Melissa and Jonathan Corriher, was kept at the hospital overnight for evaluation, his uncle said. He is a student at Knollwood Elementary School.
Fred McDaniel was looking forward to returning to work Monday at Novant Health Rowan Medical Center after taking medical leave, his son said. Following 40 years of supervising people in manufacturing at Celanese and HDX, he went back to school to become a certified nursing assistant and medical technician. He landed a job at the Salisbury hospital.
“He just enjoyed helping people,” his son said.
McDaniel was also on the board of deacons at Needmore Baptist Church and had been a volunteer firefighter years ago with Scotch-Irish Volunteer Fire Department.
The family plans to visit Summersett Funeral Home today to make funeral arrangements.
Trooper H.T. Sloop of the N.C. Highway Patrol investigated the accident and said he didn’t know why McDaniel did not see the oncoming car. The wreck happened on a straight stretch of road.
The crash occurred around 7:30 a.m., causing traffic to slow down and move into the outer lanes. The vehicles were towed and the road cleared after 9 a.m.
Rowan County Rescue, Rowan EMS, Locke and Cleveland Fire departments also responded.