Smithfield Man Dies In Head-On Collision

Photo courtesy Mary Beth Whittmire

CLAYTON – A Smithfield man was killed in a head-on collision near Clayton. The collision was reported at 9:00am Saturday on Amelia Church Road near NC Highway 42.

According to the State Highway Patrol, Lance Cook, age 36, was traveling northbound on Amelia Church Road in his Nissan Altima when he crossed the center line and slammed head-on into a Ford Edge, traveling southbound, and operated by Faustino-Arbey Escobar Lopez, age 38, of Dunn.

Cook died from his injuries. Lopez was injured but survived the crash. There were no passengers in the vehicles.

Photo courtesy Mary Beth Whittmire

Trooper B. Dial said Cook went left of center causing the crash. He was not wearing a seat belt.

Officials are investigating if any other factors may have contributed to the crash.

Lopez was cited for driving without a license.


  1. In MY opinion, I feel Mr Lopez should be charged with vehicular manslaughter even though Mr Cook crossed left of center. It is the LAW to drive with a license just as it is a law to drive in designated lanes. Both drivers are at fault. Too many unlicensed drivers getting a sleep on the wrist and that’s it. Hold people more accountable. Again, that’s my opinion, not yours. To Mr cooks family, I am so sorry for your loss.

    • Your opinions are ridiculous. No law enforcement officer or prosecuting attorney would agree with you. Stick to whatever lane you belong to.

    • Besides driving without a license I don’t see any other reason to charge Lopez, especially not with vehicular manslaughter. Based on this article it seems like they were driving in their lane and Cook was at fault. Why should Lopez be charged for something that Cook caused? Yes, Lopez should be charged for driving with no license, but not manslaughter.

    • You are ONLY saying that because Lopez more than likely is an illegal. Who crossed the center lane? Who was not wearing their seatbelt? If Cook didnt do that he would be alive. It is all on him. Take your fake rage somewhere else junior.

    • Sad to read this, but Mr. Cook crossed the center line, the other driver did not. To charge Mr. Lopez with vehicular manslaughter is ludicrous. Had the other party been Mr. Smith, there would be no objections. It’s apparent that the charges are what they should be.

  2. There is definitely contributory negligence on the part of Mr. Lopez and whoever allowed him to operate their vehicle unlicensed. It’s unfortunate that Mr. Cooper loss his life. Prayers to his family. We as a people need to take driving more seriously and not allow ourselves to be so caught up with other things that it interfers with our ability to drive safely. Never should we operate a vehicle without a driver’s license or adequate insurance. We definitely need stiffer laws to address this irresponsible behavior.

    • There isn’t any negligence. Try harder to be scared of human beings without a driver’s license.

  3. You’re crazy to say charge the person who DIDNT cross the center line! You really need your head checked.

  4. No mention of Cook’s immigration status?? What are they trying to hide, I wonder? And he wasn’t wearing a seat belt?

    • To start with let me introduce myself. My name is Cathy. I’ve lived in Johnston County for 60 years. I am speaking on the behalf of the deceased, Mr.Cook, his mother, brother and daughter and myself. I am Mr.Cook’s aunt. I never thought I’d see a community of “haters” DESTROY a grieving family as much as this community has destroyed ours with the viscous, vile, judgmental comments as this community has done. I’m sure it doesn’t matter to you or the comments wouldn’t have been made. My message to you all…Mr.Cook’s adolescent daughter that has lost the only person in her life that she could call ”daddy” has been shredded with negative comments. She’s read them ALL! Now, I pray you can lay your heads down with ease tonight as I’m sure you NONE will feel the pain, while this family is literally lifeless. I just pray God will have mercy on your souls.

  5. At least every other car I pass has their heads in their phones and not paying attention I have people come into my lane at least once if not twice a day. People are to worried about what is going on with someone else’s life instead of their own and are hurting people in the process. Not saying that what Mr Cook was doing and so sorry for the family loss I just stating that people need to pay more attention and not just normal citizens Cops as well we see y’all as well and people think it’s ok since you are doing it as well.

  6. The assumptions on here are ridiculous and, in my opinion, ignorant. I will not speak as to what happened, but you are all WRONG. Stop making assumptions. PLEASE.

  7. Lopez wouldn’t have been on the road at all if he didn’t break the law so there for even though guy crossed line there shouldn’t have been a car to but there without the person having license that’s the law also just like crossing the line is but again
    No license operator on the road no car to hit matleast that one at that specific time

    • I guarantee that the human being you call Lopez, can read and write English better than you.

      • Sorrynotsorry…you are trying to belittle another commentor on his few grammatical mistakes or spelling…hmmm…but it is YOU that keeps referencing Mr Lopez and his ability to read/write English. Who questioned any of that???? So, you, my dear need to take your own advice and stay in your lane. I bet you’d be the first one to jump for an attorney if you or your family hit Mr Lopez that was unlicensed….Mr Cook rest his soul also made a deadly mistake but could he have possible survived if Mr Lopez hadn’t been on the road in which CLEARLY he had no legal right to be?

        • I don’t take criticism from someone who believes that someone driving without a license should be charged with manslaughter when they were not the cause of the crash. Try again.

    • What if the name was Jennifer or George Lopez – would you feel any different? I know plenty, and I mean way over a dozen or more, white males and females that do not have a drivers license (but once did, so they know how to drive), but still drive because they have to get to work to support their families and also save the money up to eventually get their license back. Being poor itself in the US causes more problems than so many middle class Americans do not even realize. I am not excusing their behavior just giving another side to the racist comments I see so often here. Of course JOCo is chock full of bigots – it’s been a running joke (in other counties) ever since I moved here how backwards people are – and still are apparently.

  8. This simply boils down to an accident. People are so ignorant. These comments are just ridiculous. It’s a terrible situation for everyone involved.

  9. Our condolences to Mr. Cook family and praying for strength and comfort through this difficult time.
    Prayers for Mr. Lopez.

  10. Regardless who was at fault. One man lost his life. His family will never see him again on this earth. They are grieving! The other man was hurt and in the hospital. Pray for him to recover and be thankful that his family still have him here. Both families don’t need to see you’re negative comments on here. Be kind to one another. Is it that hard to show compassion for other people going through a tragedy? RIP Lance and praying for a speedy recovery Mr. Lopez.

  11. People are so ignorant. Lopez didn’t cause the accident. It could’ve been anyone driving on that road. I am a man lost his life. Could it be that his name is Lopez that you all want to blame him.

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