Good Samaritan Helps Crash Victims Struck By Wrong-Way Driver

Photo by John Payne

SMITHFIELD – Around 6:45pm Monday, a wrong-way driver in a white pickup truck collided with a southbound black pickup truck on I-95 near US Highway 70, sending five people, including three small children, to area hospitals.

Authorities said the State Highway Patrol had just received calls about a pickup truck driving northbound in the southbound lanes of Interstate 95 near the US 701 exit (Exit 90).  Troopers were attempting to locate the vehicle when the accident occurred near Exit 95.

Photo by John Payne

According to witnesses, the southbound pickup, loaded with a young family and what appeared to be children’s toys and traveling bags, overturned at least three times before landing upright.

The children’s ages ranged from about 1 to 5 years old.  All were properly restrained.  

Photo by John Payne

Despite the violent high-speed crash, all of the injuries appeared to be non-life threatening, authorities said.

Another driver, Taylor Lootens, from Wilmington, NC, saw the three small children on the side of the road and ran to the aid of the family.

Taylor Lootens helped a family of six involved in a crash on I-95 near Smithfield on January 15, 2024. Photo by John Payne

“I am a mom myself,” said Lootens, “and felt the Lord leading to pray for them and to help them as much as I can.”  She comforted the children and helped collect as much of the family’s scattered belongings as possible.

The US Marine Corps family was in route to South Carolina, she said.

Photo by John Payne

All I-95 southbound traffic was completely stopped for nearly two hours following the accident.

Smithfield and Selma Fire Departments, at least six Johnston County EMS units, the State Highway Patrol and the North Carolina Department of Transportation were dispatched to the accident.

Charges against the wrong-way driver were pending the outcome of the investigation.

This story has been updated