Roofer dies after truck hits trees in Kannapolis

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 3, 2013

KANNAPOLIS — A man who died Friday when the truck he was driving hit a stand of trees along West C Street shared his final moments with first responders, neighbors and a nurse who happened to be passing by and stopped to help.
Virgil Crews, 47, a roofer who lived on Therrell Road in Kannapolis, was driving a Terry Troutman Roofing truck about 6:30 p.m. when the truck ran off the road and struck a tree at 1903 W. C St., N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper D. T. Sloop said.
The truck then struck a ditch, flipped onto the driver’s side and struck another tree, Sloop said. Crews was pinned inside the mangled truck between the seat and the dashboard.
Scott and Christine White were on their front porch near the wooded area when they heard a deafening crash.
They called 911 and ran to the scene.
Crews asked Scott White to get him out of the vehicle, but White said he could only hold the stranger’s outstretched hand through the truck window and say a prayer.
A nurse who lives across the street also rushed to the scene, as well as a nurse driving by with her children. Both women stayed with Crews and tried to comfort him, witnesses said.
Gail Pierce, whose mother lives across from the accident, and other neighbors cared for the children of the nurse who was passing by.
“I’m just so sad for him and his family,” Pierce said.
Crews remained conscious and communicated with first responders while they worked for more than 45 minutes to free him from the wreckage, said Chief Clark Mackey of the Enochville Volunteer Fire Department.
Crews succumbed to his injuries as soon as he was freed from the dashboard, Sloop said.
A helicopter from Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte had landed at nearby Bethpage United Methodist Church. The air ambulance team and Rowan County EMS attempted to resuscitate Crews but were unsuccessful, Mackey said.
Crews was not speeding or wearing a seat belt, Sloop said. He said he will not know if drugs or alcohol were a factor in the crash until he receives the results of toxicology tests.
Terry Troutman said it’s a mystery why his employee was driving the truck Friday evening. Crews was not supposed to drive the vehicle, Troutman said.
Several other employees at the job site in Rowan County had tried to stop Crews before he drove away, Troutman said. Crews was apparently driving to Troutman’s home to get paid, Troutman said.
Crews was married with children and had worked for Troutman on and off for several years, Troutman said.
Several family members arrived at the scene shortly after the accident. Christine White said neighbors comforted and prayed with them.
Crews’ final words were a message for his wife, witnesses said.
Other departments that responded were Atwell Volunteer Fire Department, Rowan Rescue Squad and Kannapolis Fire Department.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.