A traffic crash Thursday afternoon in Hamlet claimed the life of a man from Rock Hill, S.C.
According to the N.C. State Highway Patrol, a tractor-trailer had moved to a shoulder and while parked was hit from behind by a white Ford work van when the driver of the van fell asleep. The van had five passengers who were heading home to South Carolina after installing flooring at Fort Bragg.
The collision caused the side of the van to be torn off, and the passengers were pinned in the vehicle. Trooper Russell Corry said the call came at 1:29 p.m.
Two passengers who were not wearing seat belts were ejected from the vehicle, according to Highway Patrol. Trooper Corry said he suspects a third passenger wasn’t wearing a seat belt, which may have contributed to his death.
Jeffrey Louis McKee, 42, of Rock Hill, lost his life in the wreck, Highway Patrol said.
The collision occurred almost a mile south of Hamlet, on N.C. Highway 74, just past Exit 38, before the bridge.
Two patients and the deceased were taken to FirstHealth Richmond Memorial Hospital in Rockingham, and the other two were taken to Sandhills Regional Hospital.
“It was very violent-looking,” said Trooper Corry. “The van tore up the rear-most axle of the tractor-trailer. The van, when it hit, spun across 74.”
Corry said he has seen too many deaths resulting from people not wearing seat belts. He said wearing a seat belt, even during a collision, can save your life.
“We preach it all the time,” said Corry. “There are so many fatalities that I have seen in all my years, that are in direct correlation with not wearing a seat belt.”
The collision is still under investigation.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at email@example.com.