CONOVER, N.C. — A Friday night crash claimed the lives of two Bunker Hill High School students. The incident is under investigation and troopers have not released the names of the teen victims or the other occupants in the car.
It was about 10 p.m. Friday when a 2002 Mercedes Benz driving eastbound on River Bend Road went off the right side of the road, the driver overcorrected and lost control. He went off the left side of the road and hit a culvert at the intersection of High Water Road and River Bend. The car went airborne for about 90 feet and crashed into a tree and a fence before coming to rest in a cattle pasture. During the crash, the car overturned. Two of the five occupants, male Bunker Hill High School students, were in the back seat. They were not wearing seat belts and were ejected from the car and killed.
The investigation is ongoing, but officers say speed was a factor.
“It appears to be a single-vehicle accident — that’s what we’re treating it as at this time,” said First Sgt. D.B. Conley of the N.C. Highway Patrol. “There is no evidence that alcohol was a factor at this time.”
Troopers J. Connor and Dan Souther are investigating the crash.
Souther was at the accident site Saturday morning reconstructing events and marking the car’s path with bright orange spray paint while Tony Turner looked on. Turner was badly shaken as he looked across a ditch choked with purple morning glories into the field beyond where the car had come to rest.
“Right now I’m just grieving for the other families,” he said. “My son was driving. He’s 18. A student at Lenoir-Rhyne (University). This is devastating.”
He wept as friends tried to comfort him on the side of the road where two teenage boys, friends of his son and friends of the family died the night before.
The property owner, Dennis Abernathy, said he’s seen plenty of crashes at that particular bend in River Road.
“I’ve lived here since ’75, and I know of eight or nine times when somebody hit this culvert right here,” he said. “It’s not uncommon at all.”
Bunker Hill High School Principal Jeff Isenhour spent Saturday morning meeting with key members of his faculty, staffers and student services at the school and district level in preparation for the coming days.
“On Monday morning we will have counselors and support services in place for our students, faculty and staff,” he said.
*** UPDATE ***
Highway Patrol has confirmed the identities of the two Bunker Hill teens killed in last night's crash as Alex Sigmon, 15, of Claremont, and Justin Turner, 15, of Conover.
The driver, Jacob Dalton, 18, of Claremont, is being treated at Catawba Valley Medical Center.
The front passenger is in stable condition in intensive care at Baptist. Another passenger is being treated at CVMC.