Wake County

Alcohol, failure to wear seat belts faulted in fatal Wake County accident

One man died and three people were hurt, including a 5-year-old boy, in a head-on collision Saturday night northeast of Raleigh, according to the State Highway Patrol.

The SHP said alcohol was involved in the crash, and investigators say they believe no one was wearing a seat belt in either car.

The driver of a Mercedes sedan, 53-year-old Frank Santamaria of Durham, was killed in the crash.

The crash happened on Mitchell Mill Road near Watkins Road, northeast of Raleigh, SHP spokesman William Henning said.

Paramedics took a passenger in the other vehicle involved, a Ford Taurus —Victoria Black, 34 — and her 5-year-old son to Wake Medical Center with serious injuries. Joshua Smith, 30, the Taurus driver, also was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Santamaria was driving the Mercedes when he passed a car in a no-passing zone, hitting the Taurus, Henning said Sunday.

Henning said in an email, “According to investigators, a witness observed the Mercedes passenger vehicle improperly passing another vehicle (not involved in the collision) in a no-passing zone. As a result, the Mercedes passenger vehicle struck the Ford Taurus head-on as it was moving back into the original lane of travel.”

He added that a witness also saw the Taurus swerving into the wrong side of the road. Troopers charged Smith with driving while impaired.

Duncan: 919-829-4880, @duncanreporting