Plymouth, NC SUV And Truck Collision Kills Ten, July 1997

TEN SCHOOL BAND MEMBERS DIE IN NORTH CAROLINA CRASH.

The Associated Press.
Plymouth, N.C. - A tractor-trailer plowed into a sport utility vehicle carrying high school students that had tried to pass in a no passing zone on a wet country road on Wednesday, killing all 10 students.
The student driving the Ford Explorer lost control after crossing the center line to pass three cars in a light rain, police said.
The Explorer "skidded sideways and was what we referred to as T-boned by the tractor-trailer rig, which means it literally hit the side of the van," said Renee Hoffman, state Highway Patrol spokeswoman.
"It's one of the worst I've even seen in my career," said Highway Patrol Lt. Wayne Taylor. "It's going to be one of the worst in North Carolina."
Nine of the victims belonged to the Plymouth High School band, said band director Leroy Bland. The 10th was a classmate.
Elena Barber, a school secretary, said they were taking a lunch break from summer band camp at the school.
The only student to survive the 1:30 p.m. crash died later at a hospital. They ranged in age from 14 to 17.
"I don't know any other word except disbelief," Bland said. "Maybe it's just a bad dream."
Barbara Burden lost two grandsons in the crash, including the driver. "We had a buddy relationship. I want to remember them like I saw them this morning," she said.
The truck driver, DAVID GRIFFIN, was treated for minor injuries at a hospital and released.
Bodies and musical instruments were strewn along the road, and the twisted wreckage of the Explorer ended up in a ravine. The truck rig was towing a low trailer designed to carry heavy equipment.
"Everybody's devastated," said Doward Jones, Jr., editor of the weekly newspaper The Roanoke Beacon in Plymouth, who was one of the first people at the scene. "The band was one of the prides of the high school."
The crash took place about 100 miles east of Raleigh on a straight, level stretch of highway 45.
List of the Fatalities:
DAMIEN BURDEN, 17, the driver of the Explorer.
BOBBY BURDEN, 15, his brother.
RICO BLOUNT, 14.
RASHAD MALIK, 15.
NORMAN WILSON, JR., 15.
CLAYTON CHESSON, II, 14.
ERICA DOWNING, 15.
CHRISTY, TOODLE, 15.
FELICIA DAVIS, 15.
MARCUS BRATTS, 16, died in Washington County Hospital.

Santa Cruz Sentinel California 1997-07-31