The NC Highway Patrol is investigating a single vehicle crash this morning (Wednesday) that claimed the life of one person and injured three others. Eyewitnesses, including two law enforcement officers, who were among the first on the scene are credited with helping those involved.
The crash happened around 2:30AM on Highway 210 between I-40 and Raleigh Road, near the intersection of S. Pleasant Coats Road, outside of Benson.
A vehicle operated by Raymond Donnell Smith Jr.,. 39, of Angier was traveling on Highway 210 when he crossed left of center, ran off the roadway on the left and struck a utility pole and a tree. After the impact the engine compartment caught on fire while the victims were still inside the wreckage.
An off-duty Four Oaks Police officer headed home from work was one of the first on the scene. He was joined by an on-duty deputy sheriff who arrived moments later along with several employees from a nearby Waffle House who ran to help. They used a fire extinguisher to fight back the flames from under the hood. The group also removed two children and Smith’s girlfriend from the burning car. The policeman and deputy performed CPR on Smith until paramedics arrived. Unfortunately, efforts to save his life were not successful.
The woman and two children – a 3 month-old and 3 year-old – were taken to WakeMed in Raleigh for treatment of serious but non-life threatening injuries. They were listed in stable condition. None of their injuries were burn-related.
Troopers said speed, failure to maintain lane control and the lack of seatbelt usage all played a part in the deadly crash. Raymond Smith would have turned 40 years old on Monday.