I-Team: State engineers to investigate Cary intersection where teen was killed

Andrea Blanford Image
Thursday, September 25, 2014
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The ABC11 I-team is pressing the DOT for answers about the safety of a Cary intersection where three Panther Creek High School students were involved in a fatal accident.

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- State transportation officials say they will begin investigating a Cary intersection where three Panther Creek High School students were involved in a fatal accident.

Laura Yost, 15, was critically injured in the Sept. 16 crash on Highway 55 at McCrimmon Parkway; she died one week later from her injuries.

Cary Police say 16-year-old Spencer Saunders was driving Laura and her brother Ryan to school when he turned left on a yellow light, into the path of an oncoming loaded dump truck.

Drivers who commute to work through the intersection say they see close calls too often.

"I'm not surprised because you see people cut in front of cars all the time over there because there's so much traffic because of the high school," said Patrick Crowe of Raleigh.

The NCDOT is required to investigate fatal accidents. Spokesman Steve Abbott said once engineers get the final police report, they will analyze that along with the crash rate and traffic volumes in the area.

Abbott said between Jan. 2011 and July 2013, there were three crashes where a driver was making a left-hand turn from Highway 55 onto McCrimmon - none of those accidents were fatal.

Town of Cary Transportation Director Lori Cove told ABC11 many of the complaints her department has received over the years is the traffic light pattern at the intersection. Parents want to see the "green ball" that gives drivers in the left-hand turn lane an option to make the turn, eliminated. Cove said doing so would not have prevented the crash that led to Yost's death, because police have reported Saunders turned on a yellow light.

Another area of concern, Cove said, was the entrance to Panther Creek High School on McCrimmon Parkway where congestion leads to risky driver behavior. Cove said in an effort to alleviate traffic there, patterns were changed in 2009 restricting drivers leaving the school from making left-hand turns.

Cove said she will continue working with the NCDOT to find solutions for that problem area and the Highway 55 intersection. She warned that any possible solution has to be evaluated for the impact it will have on other traffic patterns; adding that slowing or stopping traffic in one area could lead to delays and more fender benders, literally, down the road.

NCDOT engineers were unable to give a timeline for their investigation, saying there are already other fatal accidents that need to be investigated.

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