Funerals set for three killed in Harnett crash

Police say a pickup truck trying to avoid a driver's license check crashed into a tree early Sunday morning.
November 13, 2013 5:26:50 AM PST
Three people were killed early Sunday morning when a truck struck a tree near Lillington, according to officials.

A firefighter on the scene said the accident happened on Neills Creek Road near Buies Creek around 2:30 a.m.

A Chevrolet Silverado hit the tree and caught on fire, killing three people.

A total of five people were inside the vehicle at the time of the crash. Four of the five passengers were able to be removed from the burning vehicle. Unfortunately, the front right seat passenger could not be removed immediately.

Twenty-three-year-old Shane Mitchell Garner, 20-year-old Austin Stewart Ferrell, and 16-year-old Casey Dell Edens all died.

Autumn Ashlyn Zimmer, 17, and Marina Troyano, 17, were last listed in critical condition at WakeMed.

All five passengers were either alumni or current students from Harnett Central High School.

Family told ABC11 the group was at a party earlier in the night and were on their way to get late-night food when the crash happened.

"The last time I saw him was last night. He was working on that truck he just got. I saw him; I told him I love him. My ma and granny tried to get him to stay the night, last night, and he wouldn't do it. He wouldn't listen. He went off and that was the last of him," said Clay Garner, Shane's brother.

ABC11 also spoke to a family member of one of the victims clinging to life.

"She has tubes in her mouth so she can't respond," said Lareyce Troyano, Marina's sister.

Together, both grief stricken siblings tried to piece together what they believe happened.

"It was that the driver [that] sped through the checkpoint, they said at 100 miles per hour," said Lareyce.

Preliminary investigation has revealed that shortly before the fatal collision, the Lillington Police Department was doing a license check on U.S. Highway 421 near Campbell University. Reportedly the Silverado pickup truck, driven by Garner, did not stop at the checkpoint, but drove right through at 50 to 60 miles per hour.

"Shane, he saw that road check and he must have thought the underage people that had been drinking, didn't want to get caught. Got down this road here, didn't want to get caught and that's when it all happened ... It's a tragedy," added Clay.

Investigators say the vehicle quickly sped off and traveled a short distance on U.S. 421 before turning onto Neills Creek Road and losing control.

"Special Agents conducted approximately 25 interviews and used social media sites such Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to develop leads," said ALE Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jason Locklear in a statement to the ABC11 I-Team. "During the course of the investigation agents did determine the source of the alcohol was an ABC licensed establishment and that a fraudulent form of identification was used by an underage person to purchase the alcohol."

The investigation is still ongoing and ALE agents will be meeting with the Harnett County District Attorney's Office to discuss the findings of the investigation and to determine if any charges will be filed.

Meanwhile, funerals for Ferrell and Garner were set for Wednesday. The funeral for Edens was set for Thursday.

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