Our son Michael J. was a member of the Central Cabarrus H.S. varsity soccer team. He had gone with the team to a player’s mom’s house to have a pregame meal. The wreck occurred on the way back to the school, while Bonnie and I attended the JV game awaiting his return. Instead we ended at the hospital where we learned of this tragedy.
Rocky River Rd. leads from the mom’s subdivision to within 1/4 mile of the school. Michael J. and Andy were 2 of 3 passengers in the second car to leave the house. According to witnesses, heading towards the school on Rocky River Rd., the car he was in caught up to the lead car and passed it on a double yellow line. After going through a four way stop, the car they were in passed a pickup truck, also in a no passing zone. The car was now traveling well in excess of the 55 mph speed limit. Farther along a farm type vehicle entered the road ahead of the car. As they approached,instead of waiting for an opportunity to pass, their driver turned off on a narrow loop road accessing two houses and a kennel, trying to circumvent traffic on the main road.
Approaching speeds of 70+ mph ( the road is now posted at 35 mph) the driver drove the car in to the left lane to negotiate a sharp left curve with a visibility of 20 – 30 Ft. Nearing the exit of the curve, a van was coming from the opposite, direction in the same lane . To avoid this vehicle the driver took the car to the right and tried to “drive it out” through the front yard of a house. Eventually the right side of the car impacted a tree. The accident reports show no evidence of braking or loss of control; impact speed was 70 mph. The car burst into flames.
The left rear passenger exited the car first and later the driver. Andy, the right rear passenger died instantly, breaking his seat belt then his neck as he impacted the front seat. Michael J. who was in the right front, with seat belt and airbag, hung on for dear life with the front of the car on fire. Hospital reports show a large hole in the back of his skull where he impacted the headrest, which now lay in Andy’s lap.
The EMT who attended to M.J. said the front impact was so severe that it warped the frame of the car and caused the roof of the car to deflect in and hit Michael in the forehead. After 1 hour they were finally able to extract Michael J. from the car, but he breathed his last breath as they put him on a stretcher to load him into a helicopter. The EMT said they chewed up many saw blades trying to cut Michael out. Click on the Harrisburg Fire Department link to see pictures. The wreck occurred 9-15-2005 and was reported by the Concord Independent Tribune and the Charlotte Observer. The driver was charged and convicted of misdemeanor death by vehicle. He lost his license for 2 years, and got probation and 80 hrs. of community service. The driver of the vehicle had been cited twice in April 2005, less than 2 weeks apart, for moving violations. One was for going 65mph in a 55mph zone, and one was for failure to stop. Apparently since they were on the docket at the same time he was able to get them both reduced for improper equipment. Then a short 5 months later his driving caused 2 deaths.
I tried to be brief but I wanted everyone to fully understand the details. As always mine and Bonnie’s goal is to prevent other families from having to live our nightmare, and to help law enforcement make the roads safer; I know many sheriffs, troopers, and medics in our community are still greatly disturbed and frustrated by what happened that day.
May their lives not be lost in vain,
MIKE AND BONNIE MARTIN