The N.C. State Highway Patrol has charged the 60-year-old Raleigh woman who was involved in a multi-vehicle crash that killed a five-year-old girl.
Francine Artis Johnson of Grantland Drive was cited with misdemeanor death by vehicle and failing to reduce the speed of a 2006 Suzuki SUV before it clipped the rear end of a passenger van that crashed head-on into another car Saturday afternoon on Poole Road.
A passenger in the van, Madison Harper, was killed. The child was not restrained, and the driver of the van, Barbara Rohrer, 26, of Zebulon, was cited for a child restraint violation, according to Sgt. Charles T. Condrey of the State Highway Patrol.
The accident happened just after 1:15 p.m., at the intersection of Poole and Barwell roads, near the Carolina Open Air Market, according to a citation filed at the Wake County Clerk of Courts Office.
Keith Triggs, a mechanic who works next door at the Carolina Auto Body Shop, was behind the building working on a truck when he heard the crash. Triggs, 36, figured it was a wreck and jumped into a tow truck and drove around front, where he saw two SUVs and a van that were involved in the accident.
Triggs looked into the windows of the wrecked vehicles. There were four children in the Suzuki with Johnson, an unaccompanied woman driver in the second SUV, and a woman behind the wheel of the van.
“I checked on her first,” Triggs said about the woman in the van. “She had a bloody nose and a gouge in her leg. Her airbag was open, and she was still in the seat.”
Triggs said he didn’t see the girl at first, but three or four people who had arrived kept saying the girl’s name. “They were saying, ‘Where is she? Where is she?’ ” he said.
Triggs hurried to the rear of the van, opened the door and climbed in. He was about to cut the seatbelt that held a child’s car seat in place when he realized the little girl wasn’t in it.
“She was on the floor board, in between the front seat and the back seat,” he said. “Her hair was over her face. I didn’t want to touch her. But the van was smoking. A nurse who had got there told me, ‘Just get her.’ ”
Triggs picked up the unconscious child and handed her to the nurse. The nurse laid the girl on a mat in front of the market and started mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to try and revive her.
“The whole time she was lifeless. She never moved,” Triggs said.
Emergency medical workers arrived and transported the girl to the hospital.
“I thought about that little girl all weekend,” Triggs said Monday. “My son is six years old, just a year from her.”