Family and friends of a 24-year-old man killed in a weekend crash in Lincolnton will gather this evening at Warlick Funeral Home.
Matthew Wayne Dill, of 303 Bryant Cooper Lane in Lincolnton, died after his 2005 Dodge Neon crashed around 9:40 p.m. Saturday on Gates Road, located off U.S. 321 Business South, according to Trooper J. Futrell with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.
Futrell said Dill had been traveling westbound on the area roadway when his vehicle veered off the right side, striking a culvert followed by a road sign, telephone phone, fence and utility pole.
The vehicle came to a stop in a field beside the roadway, troopers said.
The victim was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the incident and was pronounced dead at the scene, Futrell said.
Troopers believe both alcohol and drugs, in addition to speed, contributed to the fatal crash.
Members of Dill’s family told officers the driver had been drinking alcoholic beverages all day, Futrell said.
He also estimated the vehicle’s speed of impact with the culvert to the around 60 mph — 15 mph higher than the roadway’s posted speed limit.
Officers said they also discovered alcohol in his system.
Troopers have ordered a toxicology report and expect to receive results in six to eight weeks.
Crews with Emergency Medical Services along with South Fork Fire Department and the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office also responded to Saturday’s crash.
Dill’s death is the seventh wreck fatality in the county this year, troopers said.
While officers recorded only one additional wreck fatality in the county in 2012, they anticipate a higher number of deaths by the end of this year as major annual holidays — when more collisions typically occur — have yet to take place.
Dill’s grandmother, 82-year-old Hazel Dill, said she raised Matthew since the age of three after the passing of his parents, Jerry Wayne and Virginia Caswell Dill.
“To me, he was my son — he was mine,” she said.
The elderly woman also heard the terrifying crash sound Saturday night, comparing the noise to that of a gunshot, she said.
Hazel Dill tried to get to the scene but claimed troopers wouldn’t let her near her grandson.
“They didn’t tell me nothing,” she said.
Both distraught and angry over some of the comments other area news media outlets have published about her grandson, Hazel Dill characterized Matthew, a West Lincoln High School graduate, as a “good person” and “hard worker.”
She said he served as a grocery clerk at various Lincoln County food stores including Bi-Lo and Food Lion, but was not working at the time of the incident.
In addition to staying home and watching television with his grandma, Matthew liked to play basketball, she said.
Hazel Dill noted how she received several phone calls Tuesday morning about her grandson’s positive personality and how “sweet he was.”
“You wouldn’t have found a better person,” she said. “I’m speaking from my heart.”
In addition to his grandmother, Matthew Dill is survived by his two uncles, Larry Dill and Bill Land, both Lincolnton residents.
The Dill family will receive friends from 6-8 p.m. at Warlick Funeral Home in Lincolnton.
A graveside service will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Pisgah United Methodist Church in Lincolnton.