By Dave Russell


N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper Tyson Crawford responded to two car accidents earlier this week. 

Garrett Starkey, 21, of Lincolnton, was traveling north on Edgewater Road near Cullowhee Sunday night when he lost control and went off the road to the left. His 2012 Ford Mustang struck two trees, rolled over twice and caught fire.  

The front of the engine compartment was on fire but it was quickly extinguished by the Cullowhee Fire Department, Crawford said.

Starkey was transported by Harris EMS to Harris Hospital and flown by the Mountain Area Medical Airlift (MAMA) helicopter to Mission Hospital in Asheville. 

Ethan Grasty of Sylva, 17, a passenger in the car, suffered only minor injuries and was treated at the scene. 

Western Carolina University police and the Jackson County Rescue Squad also responded to the accident.

“It’s a 45 mph zone through there and speed was a factor,” Crawford said. “He was traveling approximately between 70 and 80 mph, I’d say.” 

Alcohol and drugs were not involved, Crawford said.

Starkey, a WCU student, was in the intensive care unit at Mission as of Tuesday afternoon.

Monday night, a poplar tree fell on Crawford’s patrol car while he was traveling south on N.C. 107 near Thorpe Powerhouse in the Tuckasegee community. 

George Lucas, 72, a nearby resident, was struck by a car and suffered a broken ankle while observing.

“They were cleaning up the tree and a man who lives nearby had walked down and was watching,” Crawford said. “He was standing in the road with his back turned and a car struck him and broke his ankle. The car was going about 15 mph, but it was dark and the driver didn’t see him.

“It was a big tree. It fell down the embankment and landed on the hood of my car, and went over the top and broke the glass. It totaled my car out.”

The car’s driver was Wyatt Robinson, 21, of Waxhaw.