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Rethinking a dangerous stretch of road

North Lincoln high school student Haley Campbell died in a crash on N.C. 150 earlier this year. Her parents are pushing for changes to the roadway.

 

It’s been four months since North Lincoln junior Haley Shay Campbell was killed in a car wreck on N.C. 150.

Her parents are pushing for the speed along that mile stretch of roadway on N.C. 150 to be reduced from 55 to 45 mph.

They hope many more changes will be implemented over time in order to prevent similar future collisions along what they believe is a dangerous stretch of highway.

According to Ted Campbell, Haley’s father, he and his wife would also like to see the North Carolina Department of  Transportation   erect signs that read, “dangerous blind intersection ahead,” install a flashing caution light above the intersection and establish a full traffic signal in all directions.

While authorities with the NCDOT have already made some of minor safety improvements along that portion of roadway, they are continuing to investigate the area’s crash history in an effort to determine whether or not additional safety recommendations are necessary.

Campbell, 17, had been traveling in the right rear seat of a Honda Civic with three other teens after school, when her vehicle was struck by a truck traveling in the opposite direction.

The incident occurred just after 3 p.m. on May 5 near the intersection with Henry Dellinger Road, in northeastern Lincoln County.

Travis Cannon, the driver of the Civic (or passenger vehicle), approached the intersection, he swerved to keep from hitting the car stopped in front of him, forcing his vehicle across the center line, troopers said.

Campbell was one of three victims to be rushed to the hospital that day and the only person to perish from injuries sustained in the wreck authorities noted.

Jimmy Hammrick, NCDOT’s regional traffic engineer, told the Times-News Monday morning that authorities have already double-indicated the “stop ahead” sign along the roadway, as well as oversized the area’s stop signs.

The changes have been made since county schools started back up in August. Authorities wanted to wait until they could investigate the area’s average traffic patterns which are usually elevated during the school year Hammrick noted.

“That prompted us to look at some counter measures that we could possibly install there,” he said.

Hammrick also said NCDOT is looking into the possibility of adding a right-turn lane at the intersection. Traffic counts are due back to authorities the end of this month, he said.

“We’ll have three to four weeks to get those analyzed and solidify our recommendations,” Hammrick noted.

A cross also now sits at the intersection where Haley died.

“My wife visits the cross regularly,” Ted said.

In addition, the couple noted how they frequently bike and ride through the area and are still convinced that the intersection remains “blind and dangerous.”

Others in the community are of the same opinion, Ted noted.

“The people that we have talked to around there are afraid of the intersection and do all they can to avoid it,” Ted said.

“We have spent considerable time there, and when you do, you realize just how dangerous it is.”

Ted also noted how the extra congested conditions at the roadway stem from most drivers passing through the area as a shortcut to East Maiden Road and Beth Haven Church Road and King Wilkinson Road in Denver.

“People are scared of this intersection and when the next accident will be,” he said.

While Ted is concerned about drivers in the Denver area and has recommended several safety options, he understands that some or all of his proposed changes may not come to fruition.

“I realize that NCDOT cannot put up traffic signals everywhere there is an accident or fatality,” he said.

Since the deadly incident, Cannon has been charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle, authorities said.

Lincoln County Asst. District Attorney Adrienne Hodges is prosecuting the case, while Todd Pomeroy of Jonas Law Firm in Lincolnton is serving as Cannon’s defense attorney, according to the Lincoln County Clerk of Court’s Office.

The 16-year-old student had been driving with a provisional driver’s license at the time of the incident, according to various news media outlets.

While Cannon was scheduled to have a hearing in Lincoln County court last week, it has been postponed until Oct. 5.

Haley’s parents are trying to stay positive.

“We continue to look for ways to use the tragic death of Haley in a meaningful way that will bring good to the community,” Ted said.

One way in which the Campbells are helping the community is by making them aware of Latta Plantation’s Kids Rein Therapeutic Program for Children with Disabilities, a place where Haley and her mother Connie had wanted to volunteer as a way to both help others and put her passion for horses to good use.

Connie was the one who inspired Haley’s love for horses Ted said. However, her care for furry creatures extended to all areas of the animal kingdom.

“Haley had a great love for animals of all kinds,” Ted said.

The Campbells also spent quite a bit of time horseback riding in various countries during their 10-year stay overseas.

“It was our favorite thing to do on vacation,” Ted noted.

When the family returned to the states just before Haley’s wreck, she finally received a horse of her own—Sausalito.

“She loved him very much,” Ted said.

Since her death, Haley’s parents have been donating all proceeds offered in her name to Kids Rein, and more than $3,500 has already been donated to the Haley Campbell Memorial.

Anyone interested in making a donation can contact Teressa Tucker at 704-701-4711 or Phyllis Smeaton at 704-740-6720 or visit www.kidsrein.org.

JENNA-LEY HARRISON
Staff Writer

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