Durham vigil honors car accident victims

Students from Northern and Riverside high schools celebrate their friends' lives

Staff WriterAugust 31, 2010 

— Former classmates recalled two young men killed in a car crash in Carteret County over the weekend as fun-loving, compassionate friends.

Brantley Scott Pearce of Durham and Miles Moorman of Bahama, along with Kimberly Ann Frey and Kristen Michelle Terry, who was dating Pearce, were driving back to Durham from a beach trip near Beaufort when the accident occurred, according to the state Highway Patrol.

"Brantley was that guy who could light anybody up; he was the type of person who would give up the shirt on his back. I'm always going to remember his laugh," said Jill Pennigar, a former student at Riverside High School in Durham.

"Miles wasn't as loud and crazy, but I got to see how he was as a person and a boyfriend," she said. "He was very sweet and very loving and would do anything for anybody."

"Everybody's just really upset about it," said Courtney Pruitt, a former student at Riverside. "They were definitely the kind of people you could make friends with easily. They would talk to you. They were the ones you wanted to hang out with."

The two girls injured in the crash, both 17, were riding in the back seat of the car and were airlifted to Pitt County Memorial Hospital, where they are recovering. Terry was listed in good condition and Frey in fair condition on Monday, according to a nursing coordinator at the hospital.

"They're both really strong, and the courage and bravery they have are astounding," said Pennigar, who said Terry woke up in the hospital and asked for her boyfriend.

"They're staying strong for their families, and the boys' families," Pennigar added. "They're coping really well, and no one could expect that from them."

Connections to the schools

Pearce, 18, was a recent graduate of Riverside. Moorman, also 18, was a student at Durham Performance Learning Center but had attended Northern High School. The two girls attend Northern High School. Riverside and Northern high schools are rivals in athletics, but students from both schools know each other and hang out often, Pennigar said.

More than 200 people attended a vigil for Pearce and Moorman on Sunday night at Ridgecrest Baptist Church. The families of the victims did not attend, but many students from Riverside and Northern High School came out to remember them.

"We basically provided a place to connect and try to heal a little bit just by being together," said Shay Reyner, a pastor at Ridgecrest who spoke briefly at the memorial event.

The Durham teens were riding in a 1999 Honda Accord that turned into the path of a Chevy SUV towing a boat.

The driver of the SUV that collided with the Honda was Christopher Yeomans, 45, principal of the Smyrna Elementary School in Carteret County. He and his daughter, Caroline, 14, were treated and released from Carteret General Hospital. Yeomans' wife, Kathy, 49, suffered two broken legs in the accident and also was taken to Pitt Memorial.

Moorman, who was driving the Honda, and Pearce, the front passenger were both wearing seat belts, but the two girls were not, according the Highway Patrol.

The two cars hit nearly head on, before the Honda was knocked off the road and came to rest on the shoulder, said Sgt. Howard Wilkerson. Pearce and Moorman died at the scene.

Wilkerson, who responded to the crash, said this is the first accident he has seen at the intersection in the past 18 years.

"It is a controlled intersection," he said. "It's clearly marked; there is a stop sign."

Still, the forked intersection is tricky, Trooper Gene Johnson and Otway Fire Chief Chris Brock said. Motorists driving south on Harkers Island Road and trying to turn onto Straits don't have to slow down to make the turn in the 55 mph zone, but they can misjudge how fast traffic is coming from the other direction.

Also injured in the SUV was Jaden Fulcher, 14, of Stacy, who was admitted to Carteret General with injuries that were not life-threatening, Johnson said.

Staff writer Amy Dunn contributed to this report.

katelyn.ferral@newsobserver.com or 919-932-8746

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