Crews work to improve Johnston County road where teen was killed in crash


Lanie Bizzell died on N.C. Highway 96 near Dunn Road on March 2 when her car ran off the road and flipped over in a creek.

Lanie's mother, Gwen Bizzell, says her daughter was a safe and attentive driver who often traveled that stretch of road.

"She was always cautious," said Gwen. "Always went the speed limit."

However, the 16-year-old died less than a mile away from her Selma home.

"My husband put out a call on Facebook basically asking what can we do, and one of the things we felt like, if enough people voiced concern, perhaps they would go ahead and do something because there have been other accidents up there and fatalities that I know of," said Gwen.

The DOT received dozens of complaints asking them to make safety improvements.

Now, the scene of the accident has been turned into a construction zone. Crews are working to build up the shoulders of the road and then install hundreds of feet of guardrail.

"Our hearts go out to the family, but at the same time we are constantly looking for spots like this, and we have two other spots going on not far from here," said DOT County Maintenance Engineer Jimmy Hawley. "Similar spots where guardrails are warranted, and there are thousands of other spots in Johnston County. It's just impossible to get them all."

The DOT is looking into other dangerous roads -- adding guardrails on Shoehill Road and U.S. Highway 301 near North Johnston High School.

Those closest to Lanie hope the changes will save lives.

"I think it's a good extension of who Lanie was and the way she was," said Brad Lopp, who was Lanie's youth pastor. "Even in this instance, she's giving back and things are being done that could help somebody else."

"It's not easy, but we're at peace," said Gwen. "We know where she is, and that's what sustains us."

The improvements on Highway 96 will cost about $80,000. Crews expect to finish the project sometime next week

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