Fifteen-year-old Taylor Penny of /*Lillington*/, died when a vehicle she was a passenger in, crashed shortly before 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
The accident happened on Creek Bridge Road, about 7 miles south of /*Four Oaks*/.
/*State troopers*/ say the silver pick-up truck, driven by 17-year-old Dennis McLamb, ran off the road, hit a ditch and flipped –throwing Penny from the truck. The truck then landed on its roof, crushing her.
Neither teen was wearing a /*seat belt*/, authorities say.
McLamb told troopers, he took his eyes off the road briefly to make sure his girlfriend –Penny-- was okay since she had not been feeling well.
Penny's grandfather tells /*Eyewitness News*/ that they do not blame McLamb for her death --they believe it was just an accident.
"She was a jewel in my eyes as well as her dad and her mother," Penny's Grandfather, Johnny Douglas said.
Penny was an honors student, cheerleader and swimmer at /*Harnett Central High School*/ and dreamed of becoming a dentist.
"On top of all of the other good things she was a beautiful girl," Douglas said. "I was very proud of her I was honored. I was blessed when she was born and I still am."
This accident marks the first teen driving death in /*Johnston County*/ this year, following the more than 20 teen deaths statewide in 2007.
Unlike the other accidents, speed does not appear to be a factor in the crash, nor does alcohol.
Authorities believe a contributing factor may have been driver inexperience and the fact that the teens did not buckle up.
"We made arrangements this morning and when I put my seatbelt on, I thought of her then. She usually, as a rule, wears her seatbelt," Douglas said. "But that particular day neither him or her one had one on. He definitely, it definitely was an accident. He didn't mean any harm."
According to officials, McLamb is charged with; misdemeanor death by vehicle, exceeding safe speed and child restraint violation –not properly restraining a child under 16. His first court date is April 25.
A funeral for Penny will be held Wednesday afternoon. Grief counselors are available at Harnett Central High School to help friends deal with the loss.