Dangerous Wendell intersection getting upgrades - but too late for one family

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Grieving family hopes NCDOT will help make intersection safer

Ronnie and Pamela Hickmon can't bring back their 11-year-old grandson, but they're hoping no other family experiences the pain they've had to go through.

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About 9 p.m. on December 2, their daughter Samantha was driving home in Wendell with her son, Aaron, in the backseat. The Hickmons said she was following her GPS and in an unfamiliar area when she ran the stop sign on Applewhite Road, crossing into the path of an oncoming pickup traveling down Highway 231.

The truck hit the backside of Samantha's car, killing Aaron. Samantha suffered a concussion, but no one from the other vehicle was hurt.

The Hickmons said their daughter never saw the stop ahead sign or the stop sign itself.

They are hoping in light of the tragic accident, the NC Department of Transportation would improve the safety of the intersection by adding lights or a four-way stop.

"Aaron, he's gone," said Ronnie. "That's just something we've got to deal with. But the thing is, it could be your child next or your loved one. Nobody should have to go through this unnecessary pain."

ABC11 has learned that the NCDOT was already investigating the rural Wendell intersection where Aaron died, months before the crash.

In the fall, traffic engineers responded to the request of a Johnston County commissioner after the county manager received an email from a concerned citizen.

Andrew Barksdale, spokesperson for the NCDOT, said by the end of the week, weather permitting, crews will be adding distance information to the existing stop ahead sign so that drivers will know how far they will travel before reaching the stop sign, new stop ahead warnings and stop signs, and they will also replace existing stop signs with larger ones.

In the coming weeks, Barksdale added that crews will be cutting back vegetation to improve visibility.

When asked whether these improvements could have been made any sooner, Barksdale said they were moving as quickly as possible.
Related Topics:
traffic stoproad safetyjohnston county newsWendellJohnston County
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