DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. – It’s a story nobody wants to hear: young lives taken too soon as a result of a car accident.
The latest faces to the tragedy: Todd Goetaski, Gavin Ivey, and Justin McGee. The 16-year-old West Davidson High School students died in a car crash on Saturday morning. All three were wearing seatbelts.
Troopers say their car passed a pickup truck, going about 100 miles per hour. But when they got back into the lane the car skidded into oncoming traffic. Highway Patrol believes at the time of the accident the car was going about 60 miles per hour, when it was hit by the oncoming SUV.
Trooper Ned Moultrie says this, like every fatal crash, is difficult to process. Highway Patrol tries to combat these tragedies by education and enforcement. He says traffic collisions are the leading cause of teenagers’ deaths in North Carolina.
“Always tell your children you love them, because you never know when they may be taken from you,” he said, “It's hard for the highway patrol when we have to do these death notifications. But it's just one of those things when you operate a vehicle and that's what I preach to everybody, where the safety about reduce those odds.”
He says in this case, there are some things a seatbelt cannot prevent. His other teaching points include limiting distractions and avoiding driving impaired. Another very important point – keeping from speeding over the posted limit.
“Every 10 mph over 50 miles per hour - a teen's chances of death doubles,” Trooper Moultrie said.
He attends many driver’s education classes, to have an open dialogue with teens and new drivers. He believes they take what he says to heart, and afterwards, have a changed perspective about the seriousness of getting behind the wheel.
“It is a serious piece of machinery,” Moultrie said, “Treat it like such.”
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The accident reconstruction team’s investigation is ongoing, and the team has yet to take the black boxes out of the vehicles involved to complete the picture of what happened this weekend.