Wife killed in Raleigh crash while husband waited

No charges filed in vehicle crash on Atlantic Avenue

tmcdonald@newsobserver.comOctober 30, 2012 

WRECK-NE-102912-TEL

Emergency personnel work the scene of a vehicle accident Monday, October 29, 2012, on an Atlantic Avenue bridge between Old Louisburg and East Whittaker Mill Roads in Raleigh.

TRAVIS LONG — tlong@newsobserver.com

— William Massey had been trying to sell his truck for quite sometime. On Monday, a man stopped at the Leith Land Rover dealership in Cary where Massey worked, paid cash for the vehicle and drove it away.

So, he called his wife of 34 years and asked her to pick him up from work. Jeri Massey, 55, of 809 Mordecai Road, never made it.

The 2007 Lexus that she was driving across an Atlantic Avenue bridge north of downtown late Monday afternoon was hit head-on by a 2000 Cadillac driven by Vance Edward Wilson, 61, of Durham.

Both drivers were later pronounced dead at WakeMed in Raleigh. There were no other occupants in the two vehicles, police reported.

The posted limit along that section of Atlantic Avenue is 35 mph. Police estimate both cars were traveling 47 mph when they collided.

Stacia Harrington Wilson, who witnessed the crash, said she had to slam on the brakes of her car to avoid the debris flying across the roadway after the cars hurtled into one another.

“It all happened so fast,” Wilson said.

Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue said the investigating officer reported that Wilson had a medical condition, but was awaiting confirmation from the state medical examiner’s office in Chapel Hill before determining if Wilson’s health contributed to the crash.

Wilson is a self-employed photographer who operates Digital Works Photography out of his 4307 Emerald Forest Drive home, according to state records.

Investigating officer C.A. Bradford reported that Wilson’s Cadillac was traveling south on Atlantic Avenue just before 5 p.m. when it drifted off the right side of the road and struck a guardrail. The Cadillac swerved back onto the road, but crossed the center lane and crashed head-on into Massey’s Lexus that was traveling north in the left lane, according to the accident report.

“She never had a chance,” her sister, Judy Butler of Chesnee, S.C., said on Tuesday.

Butler said her sister was a wife, mom and doting grandmother who had celebrated her fifth anniversary of being a breast cancer survivor in April.

Massey would have celebrated her 56th birthday on Nov. 12. Her grandson, Brayden, who is four, will celebrate his birthday Nov. 12.

“He doesn’t quite understand yet, but those two had a bond like nothing else on the face of the earth,” Butler said. “He just lit up when he saw his ‘Nana.’ He’s having a difficult time knowing that Nana is gone.”

Massey’s second grandchild, a girl, is due on Christmas Eve.

She moved to Raleigh in 1975. She grew up in Fairfax, Va., the youngest of three children. She excelled as an athlete, her sister said.

The mother of two adult sons, Massey worked for the past 10 years as an office staffer with Associated Urologists of N.C. in West Raleigh.

“She had such a strong work ethic,” Butler said. “When she was going through chemotherapy and couldn’t work, she tried to resign. But they wouldn’t let her...she worked until (Monday).”

Butler said she and her sister were looking forward to a costume party they both planned to attend next month in Raleigh. Butler last talked with her over the weekend when they discussed their costumes.

“I described my costume to her and she said, ‘Well, I got mine today and it sounds a lot like yours,’ ” Butler said. “I asked her if it had built-in panties and if she had to step into the dress and pull it up. She started laughing. I asked her if it had caplet sleeves and a black velvet vest and she laughed harder. By the time I asked her if it had a headdress with a big feather sticking out the top she was hysterical.”

They had chosen the same flapper costume.

William Massey was still waiting at the Leith dealership for his wife to pick him up from work when he got the call from the hospital.

“He couldn’t understand why she was late,” Butler said. “He just lost the love of his life.”

Staff writer Matt Caulder and news researcher Peggy Neal contributed to this report.

McDonald: 919-829-4533

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