The wreck happened on Hannah Creek Road, less than a mile from South Johnston High School.
According to authorities, two 16-year-old sophomore students from the high school were transported to the hospital. Jesse Ferrell later died. Jordan Stikeleather was treated and released.
The Highway Patrol said a red Ford F-150 truck operated by Stikeleather was headed north on Hannah Creek Road towards Highway 301 when it passed a car with two female students in it.
"I seen Jordan come up my rearview mirror pretty fast," driver Michelle Barefoot said.
Barefoot was driving the car, Stikeleather and Ferrell were passing.
The black Chevy Z71 truck driven by Ferrell then attempted to pass both Stikeleather and Barefoot's car. However, Ferrell's truck veered out of control, overcorrected and collided with Stikeleather's truck. Both vehicles ran off the roadway and overturned in a field, ejecting both drivers.
"Shocked that I could actually see something like that right in front of me happen within maybe four seconds," Barefoot said.
A trooper at the scene said the crash was Ferrell's fault, but that both teenagers were speeding and not wearing seatbelts. He says Ferrell was ejected and Stikeleather's truck rolled over him causing a fatal injury.
Barefoot and her friend Lauren Accashian, who was also a passenger in her car Wednesday morning, say they are both sad and angry.
"Driving ridiculous like that, it's not safe and it's not fun," Accashian said. "It might be fun at the moment, but in the end you realize it's a pretty stupid decision."
Ferrell's friend, fellow cheerleader and head of the school's chapter of Students Against Destructive Decisions had a reminder for her classmates.
"Lane departure, speeding and not wearing a seatbelt are the three main causes of fatalities," classmate Grace Anne Carroll said.
More than 100 student gathered Wednesday night where the crash happened. Billy Carr was one of the first to arrive.
"I always tell him, I said, you hard-headed, you ought to wear that seatbelt and his driver's side seatbelt, he had cut that thing out or it was gone," Carr said. "He said he couldn't stand wearing a seatbelt, it hurt his neck, he could not stand wearing a seat belt at all.
The North Carolina Highway Patrol said Thursday that Ferrell's seatbelt was not removed from his vehicle.
One of Ferrell's closest friends says he hopes others will learn from the accident.
"I just like for teenagers to think before they act, because I don't want anybody to go and stand in front of the camera having to talk about their friend, you know," Classmate Austin Johnson said. "It's going to be hard to cope without my best friend at school every day."
"We all love him and we're going to miss him that's for sure," Carr said.
Friends have created a memorial page on Facebook for Ferrell.
There is also a memorial at Ferrell's parking spot at South Johnston High School. Several of his friends are planning to gather before school Thursday morning to honor his memory.
A spokesperson from Johnston County Public Schools says there are counselors on standby at the school in case students would like to talk about the wreck.
Since 2006, nearly 30 Johnston County teens have died in car wrecks. The county started a new driver education program in 2008. Alive at 25 is a defensive driving program that was created to combat the problem of teen deaths due to vehicle crashes.
For more information on Alive at 25 and how to register, click here.
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