A 16-year-old driver and her 12-year-old sister were killed Thursday in western North Carolina when they drove head-on into a pickup truck, according to the N.C. Highway Patrol.
It happened at 4:40 p.m. on N.C. 18, a winding mountain road through the unincorporated McGrady community in Wilkes County. McGrady is about 70 miles northwest of Winston-Salem.
The two girls were identified as Cassandra Elizabeth Gilbert, 16, and Madison Grace Gilbert, 12, both of whom lived in McGrady, the Highway Patrol said in a news release.
Madison was a student at West Wilkes Middle School in Wilkesboro, and her big sister, who went by “Cassie,” attended West Wilkes High School in Millers Creek, according to the Wilkes Journal-Pilot.
The two were on their way home from school at the time of the crash, reported WXII.
Investigators say Cassandra Gilbert was driving north on N.C. 18 in a 2006 Ford Freestyle when she pulled into the southbound lane, trying to pass a school bus at a curve in the road.
Her timing put the utility vehicle directly in the path of an oncoming GMC pickup, the Highway Patrol said.
“Although the GMC attempted to avoid the collision, the vehicles collided head-on,” Master Trooper Jeffrey Swagger said in the news release. “The Ford came to rest in the roadway; the GMC overturned and came to rest on a guardrail on the shoulder....Both girls died as a result of the collision.”
Investigators did not say how fast the two vehicles were going.
The 43-year-old pickup driver was taken to Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem “with serious but non-life threatening injuries,” Swagger said. He was identified as Michael Shane Miller, of Wilkes County’s Millers Creek community, officials said.
All involved were wearing seat belts, and no one was impaired, Swagger said.
The sisters have eight siblings, according to WXII.
A GoFundMe campaign was set up Friday to help cover the family’s funeral expenses.
“The family’s grief is unfathomable as well as the financial burden,” the GoFundMe page says. “We as a community are trying to help a beloved family that shouldn’t have to do this alone.”