Unrestrained Driver is 17th Fatality Here

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Monday’s wreck at N.C. 87 and U.S. 74 might not have been deadly had the driver been wearing a seatbelt.

The Highway Patrol reported that Deshawn Ford, 27, of Paddlefish Drive, Fayetteville, was pronounced dead on the scene after he rear-ended a gasoline tanker.  The tanker, driven James Rufus Austin of Wilmington, was slowing for the stoplight at U.S. 74 and N.C. 87 when Ford collided with the tractor trailer. The crash blocked the westbound lanes of U.S. 74 while Ford was extricated from the wreckage.

He was not wearing a seatbelt, the Highway Patrol said.

“The SUV was equipped with airbags,” Sgt. J. Collins of the Highway Patrol said. “If he had been wearing a seatbelt, he might not have been injured at all, except for some bruises.”

Witnesses told first responders that Ford’s Volkswagen SUV passed several other vehicles at a high rate of speed on the way to the intersection. The tanker was nearly stopped when Ford rammed into the rear of the trailer. The VW had reduced speed closer to the intersection.

Austin was not injured. No charges will be filed in the case. 
Ford was the 17th person to die on Columbus County roads this year.

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Jefferson Weaver is the Managing Editor of Columbus County News and he can be reached at (910) 914-6056, (910) 632-4965, or by email at [email protected].