Son of former legislator killed

One-car wreck occurred early Sunday

Staff WriterApril 28, 2008 

— The youngest son of a former state legislator was killed early Sunday when he lost control of his Jeep Wrangler near Clayton, striking a mailbox and flipping the vehicle, authorities said.

Joseph Michael Ellis, 21, of 3513 Auburn-Knightdale Road in Raleigh, was killed in the one-vehicle wreck, which happened about 3:25 a.m. on Government Road west of Clayton, according to a Highway Patrol accident report. Former state Rep. Sam Ellis confirmed the death of his son, the youngest of three brothers.

"He was just a great kid; he's what everybody wants," said the elder Ellis, a Republican who served in the General Assembly for more than a decade before being defeated for re-election in 2004.

The father said his son had been at the Triangle Beach Music Festival near Garner on Saturday, but he did not know why he was traveling near Clayton at the time of the accident.

According to the accident report, the younger Ellis was driving a 1998 Jeep Wrangler south on Government Road, ran off the road to the right, then over-corrected. The vehicle veered back to the left, hit a mailbox and overturned. Trooper C. Thompson said Ellis was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the Jeep.

Tyler Godwin, a passenger, was injured in the wreck and taken to WakeMed Raleigh campus. He was treated and released, hospital staff said.

Troopers are awaiting toxicology reports to determine whether alcohol was a factor in the accident, Thompson said.

Known by family and friends as Joe, the younger Ellis was a junior at East Carolina University, where he studied construction management, his father said. He had just told his mother that he planned to work in the family's electrical contracting business after graduating.

Joe Ellis had attended Enloe High School in Raleigh.

samuel.spies@newsobserver.com or (919) 932-2014

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