Church elder killed in Raleigh wreck Sunday after leaving services

tmcdonald@newsobserver.comJanuary 27, 2014 

— Catherine Obie had been in Raleigh celebrating her sister’s annual church convocation when she left her sister’s church near Rock Quarry Road late Sunday afternoon and headed home to Durham.

As she was leaving, a church deacon told Obie, 83, to make sure she drove carefully, said Mario Davis, a family friend who pastors a church in Durham.

A few minutes later, Obie was killed after a Pontiac Grand Am traveling in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 40 jumped the median, went airborne, landed in the westbound lanes and crashed into her white Chrysler, according to police.

Emergency workers pronounced Obie dead at the scene. Raleigh police charged Brandon Lewis Jefferson of Budd Lake, N.J., with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle. Jefferson, 22, was released from the Wake County jail after posting a $2,000 bond, a jail spokesman said Monday.

The eastbound and westbound lanes on I-40 are divided by a system of guard cables, said Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue.

“How one car got from one side to the other is part of the investigation,” Sughrue said.

The crash was reported just after 4:45 p.m. and occurred in the westbound lanes of the interstate between Gorman Street and Lake Wheeler Road, police said.

On Monday, police released recordings of two 911 calls made moments after the accident.

One caller told a 911 dispatcher that the car Jefferson was driving “jumped the curb” before slamming into Obie’s car.

“One jumped and went in the air about 10 feet and ran right in front of me,” the unidentified caller told a dispatcher. “I went right under him.”

The caller said Obie appeared to have died immediately. She was trapped because the roof of her Chrysler had caved in, the caller told the dispatcher.

Debris and clothes were strewn across the westbound lanes of I-40 after the crash, which involved several other vehicles and created a major tie-up. The 911 caller told the dispatcher that Obie and Jefferson’s cars were about 200 yards apart.

A second 911 caller who was closer to Jefferson’s car told a dispatcher that it had flipped over.

“He crawled out of the car, and he’s standing there,” the unidentified caller said.

Catherine Obie was married to Samuel Obie, who pastors a church in Siler City. She is the sister of Bishop M.S. Nesbitt, who founded the church where she worshipped last week and over the weekend.

Davis, 30, described Obie as a wonderful, holy, no-nonsense woman who loved wearing hats, even when she stood in the pulpit to preach. He first heard Obie preach at her sister’s Raleigh church when he was 13. He marveled at her ability to connect with the congregation.

“The presence of God was everywhere,” he said. “I don’t remember exactly her message but the people came up in droves for her to pray for them. She said to me, ‘Just say, Yes, Lord. Say it like your life depended on it.’ That has stuck with me. Some people make an impression on you that you never forget.”

Davis last saw Obie on Friday.

“Sister Obie left a wonderful legacy, not only for her family, but for so many lives she touched,” he said. “I’m glad I had the opportunity to know her.”

McDonald: 919-829-4533

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