It happened at Old Fairground Road at Massengill Pond Road around 3:15 a.m, less than three miles away from the driver's home.
Authorities say Lucas Daniel Currin, of Benson, struck a warning sign, crossed over a driveway, and struck a pine tree. He later succumbed to his injuries.
According to the property owner, who heard and saw everything, Currin hit the tree head-on.
"I'm fighting with myself right now because it breaks my heart. It's somebody's child and you know there basically was nothing that we could do to save him or help him because he was already gone," said eyewitness Rachel Bullock.
Currin's girlfriend, Jessica Coats, was in the car with him and was there when he died.
"The girl was laying here, blood all in her arm and everything," Bullock said.
Bullock says when she saw Coats she was screaming for help.
"[Coats] was standing there saying 'help me help me' so I dialed 911 and I talked to them," she said.
Coats was taken to WakeMed and is listed in fair condition.
"Basically it was a tragic...tragic...I just...My heart goes out to the family," Bullock said.
Family members are distraught over Currin's death. Some relatives did not even learn of the fatal accident until they watched the news.
According to Currin's Facebook page, he went to West Johnston High School and graduated in 2008.
His family is hoping to make funeral arrangements Monday. Right now, they are just asking for the community's thoughts and prayers through this difficult time.
The Highway Patrol says both victims had seatbelts on when they crashed. Investigators also say speed was not a factor but they are not sure if alcohol played a role. An autopsy is being done.