close
close

After 2.5 years, the state installed a guardrail at the site where five teenagers died in a crash in Raleigh

The North Carolina Department of Transportation will this week install a guardrail in front of the bridge supports on Capital Boulevard, where five teenagers died in a crash more than 2.5 years ago.

NCDOT contractors are scheduled to begin work Tuesday where Fairview Road intersects the southbound lanes of Capital. Five teenagers, ages 13, 14 and 17, died when the SUV one of them was driving crashed into a concrete pillar in October 2021.

The Fairview Road bridge's piers lie just feet from the sidewalk in a section of Capital where the speed limit is 45 miles per hour. But the spot wasn't on any list for a guardrail until the crash, city and state officials say.

The city and NCDOT quickly agreed that some sort of barrier was needed to prevent cars from crashing into the bridge supports. What followed was a deliberate process of evaluating the type of guardrail and the cost, then seeking money from a state safety program and finding a contractor to do the work, said James Sudano, the city's traffic safety engineer.

“A lot can happen that goes into implementation other than just going out and putting up a guardrail,” Sudano said in an interview. “While in an ideal world we would like things to get done as quickly as possible, these processes to make things happen can sometimes take a while.”

NC Department of Transportation contractors will install guardrails where Capital Boulevard passes under the Fairview Road overpass.  In October 2021, five teenagers were killed when the SUV one of them was driving crashed into the bridge piers at 80 miles per hour.

NC Department of Transportation contractors will install guardrails where Capital Boulevard passes under the Fairview Road overpass. In October 2021, five teenagers were killed when the SUV one of them was driving crashed into the bridge pillars to the right at 80 miles per hour.

Fairview Road was part of a package of guardrail projects in Wake County approved by the Secretary of Transportation last June. The work was further delayed due to a lack of companies able and willing to do it, said NCDOT spokesman Aaron Moody.

“We have been working with limited contractor availability and are now pleased to see this moving forward,” Moody wrote in an email.

Installation of the guardrail was expected to take two days, but rainy weather could extend the work, Moody said.

It is not clear whether a guardrail would have saved the young people's lives. Police estimated 17-year-old Kamari Strayhorn was traveling at 80 miles per hour when the Lexus SUV hit the pier. After a long straightaway, southbound Capital turned left at the Fairview Road bridge and Strayhorn drove straight into the column, apparently without braking, according to a Raleigh police accident report.

None of the teenagers were wearing seatbelts. The accident occurred at 6:15 a.m. on a Sunday morning.

All boys were students. They were Strayhorn at South Garner High School; Jeremiah Williams, 17, at Lumberton Senior High School; Zymeer Dennis, 14, of Wake Forest High School and Maikeal Freeman, 13, and Lebron Staton, 14, both eighth-graders from Raleigh.

Anna Harden

Learn More →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *