Wake County

Panther Creek student hurt in Cary vehicle crash has died

Rachel Porter, right, and Rayeh Sommer, both 16, center, and Colton Porter, left, pray at the scene where their friend, Laura Yost, was in a car accident. Yost, a Panther Creek High School student, died on Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. Teens gathered after school to pay their respects at the accident scene at the corner of Highway 55 and McCrimmon Parkway.
Rachel Porter, right, and Rayeh Sommer, both 16, center, and Colton Porter, left, pray at the scene where their friend, Laura Yost, was in a car accident. Yost, a Panther Creek High School student, died on Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. Teens gathered after school to pay their respects at the accident scene at the corner of Highway 55 and McCrimmon Parkway. clowenst@newsobserver.com

Laura Yost, the Panther Creek High School student injured in a wreck near her school last week, has died.

Yost, 15, was riding to school last Tuesday with her brother, Ryan Yost, 16, and their friend, Spencer Saunders, 16, who was driving the sport-utility vehicle. The collision happened when the SUV turned into the path of an oncoming dump truck, according to Cary police.

Laura Yost was the most seriously injured of the three students, while the truck’s driver was uninjured. Her death was confirmed Tuesday morning by Lisa Luten, director of marketing communications for the Wake County school system.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Yost family this morning. School support teams and counselors at Panther Creek High School are working with students and staff today,” Luten wrote in an email. “The family asks that the public please respect their privacy and that of friends during this difficult time.”

The crash happened just before 7:10 a.m. at the intersection of N.C. 55 and McCrimmon Parkway.

The driver of the dump truck, Jerry Middleton of Creedmoor, told police that as he approached McCrimmon Parkway heading south on N.C. 55 he saw three vehicles waiting to make a left turn onto the parkway in front of him, according to a police report.

Middleton said he thought the first vehicle “had cut it close” when it turned in front of him, and that the second vehicle “cut it way too close” when it turned, too. He began to brake but could not stop when the third vehicle, a Chevrolet Blazer driven by Saunders, also turned left. Middleton’s truck struck the Blazer on its passenger side.

Police concluded that Saunders’ “failure to yield” to the truck was “the sole contributing factor in this crash,” and they planned to file charges against him.

Lt. Steve Wilkins said Cary police have talked to the Wake County District Attorney’s Office about charges.

It’s unclear what charges Saunders could face. Wilkins said he did not know when the information would be released.

“We’re going to the let the dust settle with the families,” he said Tuesday.

Students had rallied for Laura Yost in prayer circles, on the soccer fields where she played and on social media, which surged with thousands of messages under the hashtag #PrayForLauraYost.

With news of her death, students, friends and family remembered “one of the sweetest girls,” as a young woman wrote.

“Truly heartbroken today,” one man posted to Twitter. “Such a sweet, talented young lady. I am touched that she had been a part of my life.”

A post also appeared on the Twitter account of Spencer Saunders, the driver.

“Not one minute has passed where I haven’t thought about you. Never could I ever imagine this happening,” it read.

“We’ve grown so close to each other, we were family. I’m going to miss staying up late and watching Netflix with you ... practicing soccer with you, and just having you as my little sister.”

“.... I’m so sorry this happened, please forgive me.”

In response, friends and strangers offered the teenager their love and support.

Staff writers Sarah Nagem and Ron Gallagher contributed.

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