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Car crash helps speed bridge replacement

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First responders rescued a woman after the truck she was driving on Alternate U.S. 64 went into Penders Mill Run.

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BY WILLIAM F. WEST
Staff Writer

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

An Alternate U.S. 64 bridge over a creek in rural Edgecombe County, which was the scene of a one-vehicle crash late last month, is closed until this summer for an already-scheduled replacement with a new crossing.

Alfter a pickup truck careened into Penders Mill Run on Feb. 27, a state Department of Transportation spokesman said the bridge, which dates back to 1922, already had been deemed structurally deficient. The bridge is just west of Lake Valley Drive. 

Transportation Department spokesman Andrew Barksdale said the crossing was closed on March 5 and is going to remain shut off to traffic until late June so crews with Smith-Rowe of Mount Airy can complete a nearly $1.3 million project.

A structurally deficient bridge means while a crossing remains safe for traffic, the present structure has components in poor condition requiring more frequent maintenance.

The bridge became a center of attention on Feb. 27.

Detective Lt. E.W. Muse of the Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office said a woman was driving a truck on Alternate U.S. 64 when the vehicle struck one of the two-lane bridge’s concrete sides and ended up on the south side of the crossing.

Edgecombe County deputies responded as well as an off-duty Tarboro firefighter, firefighters from the Heartsease community and personnel from Edgecombe County EMS and Edgecombe County Emergency Management.

Muse said one of the rescuers crawled into the vehicle with the woman and started using intravenous devices to aid her. Muse also said the off-duty Tarboro firefighter got into the creek and used a hydraulic cutting tool to open the top of the truck.

Barksdale said a bridge maintenance engineer inspected the structure immediately after the wreck and didn’t find any damage, so the crossing wasn’t closed.

The State Highway Patrol also responded to the wreck.

A report filed by Trooper J.I. Strickland identified the driver of the truck as Mary Katherine Cummings of the 200 block of Sorey Avenue in Tarboro.

The report said Cummings was driving a 2012 Chevrolet east on Alternate U.S. 64 when the truck went off to the right, struck the railing, overturned and ended up in the creek.

The report said the truck was registered to John Michael Cummings Jr. of the 200 block of North Graystone Lane in Macclesfield and said the truck sustained approximately $7,500 in damages.

Edgecombe County court officials said Mary Katherine Cummings, 49, is facing charges of driving while her license was revoked and failure to maintain lane control. Cummings is due on May 23 in District Court.

Although the court records don’t show Cummings facing any other charges, Strickland said he suspects alcohol-related impairment.

Strickland said Cummings’ breath smelled of alcohol while she was at a hospital for treatment.

Strickland said blood was drawn from Cummings for laboratory testing to determine her blood-alcohol content and said the result remains pending.

He said Cummings is charged with driving while her license was revoked because she already has been convicted of DWI.

Barksdale said until the new bridge is completed, motorists using Alternate U.S. 64 must take either Northwoods Country Road or Raccoon Branch Road to Howard Avenue and to Harts Mills Run Road.

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