Man hit, killed when car crashed into Siler City burger restaurant was New Life Church pastor

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Monday, October 11, 2021
Victim in Johnson's Drive-In crash ID'd as New Life Church pastor
Mark McKinney's life will be celebrated on Saturday at 1 p.m. at New Life Church.

SILER CITY, N.C. (WTVD) -- The man who died when a car crashed into a popular hamburger joint in Siler City on Friday has been identified as New Life Church Pastor Mark McKinney.

The car crashed into Johnson's Drive-In, which is often mentioned in lists for best burgers in North Carolina, striking four people and leaving McKinney dead.

"The life that he lived impacted everyone around him," a post on Facebook from New Life Church said. "He was an amazing husband to Pastor Dee, father to Pastor Matt and Cara, and Grandpa to four grandchildren. He was a great friend, teacher, Pastor, and mentor to hundreds of people. He finished strong and he never quit. He fought the good fight of faith and stepped over to Heaven with joy. He won the crown that was laid up for him!!"

McKinney's life will be celebrated on Saturday at 1 p.m. at New Life Church.

John Salvatore Graviano, 60, of Siler City, was charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle, failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident and driving left of center.

Police said that Graviano was traveling west on US 64 and crossed the center line, colliding with a vehicle that was making a left turn onto E. Raleigh St. from 64. After the collision, Graviano continued into oncoming traffic lanes before leaving the roadway on the left side into the grass on the east side of Johnson's Drive-In's parking lot.

His vehicle went through the parking lot and crashed into customers who were gathered around waiting for their orders to be prepared. His vehicle then crashed into the building.

In addition to killing McKinney, the crash injured a 77-year-old woman. She was airlifted to UNC-Hospital in Chapel Hill and is listed in serious but stable condition.

A 39-year-old woman and an 18-year-old man were taken to Chatham Hospital by ambulance with non-life-threatening injuries.

Johnson's Drive-In owner Carolyn Routh said she was in the back of the restaurant, which has been in business since 1946, when the crash happened.

There are reports of serious injuries after a vehicle crashed into Johnson's Drive-In, a popular hamburger joint in Siler City.

"I was coming around the corner and coming into the front when I heard the commotion and looked out and saw customers scrambling," Routh said. "And then saw the car come through the building."

Routh said the restaurant's customers are mostly regulars.

"More than anything, we have a customer base that is largely comprised of people that are here all the time," Routh said. "So a lot of our customers, we get to know very well -- they're like family and I still don't know everybody that was injured in this incident."

Routh said the restaurant's dining room is still closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so patrons were there for either walk-up or online orders.

The crash took place in the building's extension, which was built in 1960.

"This is life, I grew up here," said Routh, who took over the business when her father retired in January. His father was the original owner. "This is like seeing your home destroyed, so that's shaken me a little bit, too, but at the end of the day, it's bricks, it's mortar, it's glass; it can all be repaired.

"My focus right now, my primary concern are on the people that were hurt," she added.

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