A Wendell man was killed in a single-car accident that occurred near Zebulon the evening of Monday, July 4, the State Highway Patrol said.
Officials said Christopher Andrew Welker, 19, of 7256 Shawan Road, was about 5 miles north of the town and heading north toward Wake Forest on Zebulon Road, or N.C. 96, near Martin Road when the 1996 Acura Integra he was driving traveled right off the roadway.
Welker overcorrected, troopers said, and the vehicle crossed left of center before running off the left side of the road. The vehicle then struck a ditch and overturned, coming to a rest on its roof after striking a tree.
The accident took place about 9:30, according to the report.
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Officials said Welker, who was wearing his seat belt, was traveling alone and that he died at the scene.
They also said speed contributed in the accident.
Friends took to social media to share memories and offer condolences to Welker’s family.
Among those was Sterling Wilder, a rising senior at East Carolina University who was two years ahead of Welker in their common major of design.
Just days before the accident, Wilder was boxing up old schoolwork to give Welker to help him in his studies for the coming year at ECU.
Wilder used to give Welker, a 2015 graduate of East Wake High School, rides home from East Wake, where the two and Wilder’s younger brother Morgan were teammates on the wrestling squad.
Echoing the many posts about Welker online, both Wilder brothers say he had a personality that shined no matter the circumstance.
“He always tried to make everyone else laugh,” Sterling Wilder said. “I can’t think of a time other than a wrestling match he didn’t have a smile on his face, and even in a wrestling match I think it was just because he was trying so hard not to smile. He was always trying to keep everyone else happy. He was a really great guy.”
Morgan Wilder graduated from East Wake in 2014, the year before Welker.
He came to be particularly close friends with Welker as one of his regular wrestling partners, since they were close in weight class.
“We spent a lot of time together in wrestling – not just at practice but at tournaments and on and off the mat,” Morgan Wilder said. “You spend a lot of time around the people who you are wrestling partners with because that’s who you grow the closest to. You spend hours with them.”
He said the thing that stood out the most about Welker was that he was always happy.
“Nothing slowed him down,” he said. “He had some tough things he went through, but he was never upset. He was one of the nicest people I know.”