By Dave Russell
A pair of wrecks on N.C. 107 in the Glenville area claimed two lives in the last week.
Friday afternoon at about 3:15 p.m. near Pine Creek Road, Western Carolina University student Raishon Peterman, 22, of Gastonia, was traveling south when he lost control of his Honda passenger car in a curve and collided with a northbound box truck, according to N.C. Highway Patrol Sgt. Scott Smith.
Peterman was transported by Harris EMS to Harris Regional Hospital and flown via Mountain Area Medical Airlift to Mission Hospital in Asheville, where he died later that night, Smith said.
“According to his friends, he was running late for work and was going too fast,” Smith said. “It had rained and the road was still slick. He came into a curve and went sideways and hit the truck on his drivers side.”
It took an hour or two to get Peterman out of his car using the jaws of life, Smith said.
Smith did not know the name of the truck driver, but he was not injured. The truck was owned by James River Equipment, a Shelby-based company specializing in John Deere products, Smith said.
Traffic was backed up a few hours in the Pine Creek area.
Glenville-Cashiers fire personnel and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene.
Peterman was a senior majoring in computer information systems with a minor in Japanese studies.
He was a 2015 graduate of the Highlands School of Technology in Gastonia.
Sunday afternoon about 5:15 p.m. a motorcyclist was killed when he was struck head on by an alleged drunk driver.
Jorge Hernandez Hernandez, 20, of Cashiers, was driving a Chevrolet truck northbound on N.C. 107 in the Glenville area when he crossed into the southbound lane and hit Richard Bartnik, 78, of Wisconsin.
“Hernandez attempted to leave the scene,” Smith said. “He drove about a tenth of a mile and spun his truck out. It would not have gone far anyway; it was leaking radiator fluid drastically. You could see his trail.”
Hernandez lost control in a curve and hit the guardrail.
He then took off into the woods, prompting a manhunt by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies captured Hernandez in four or five hours in the Cullowhee Mountain Road area, Smith said.
“It was a pretty good distance away,” Smith said. “We believe he might have had a ride to a certain location. The sheriff’s office did an outstanding job helping us locate this suspect.”
Hernandez was not injured in the crash. He faces charges of driving while impaired, reckless driving to endanger, misdemeanor death by vehicle, failure to stop at the scene of a crash and felony hit and run injury.
The Highway Patrol performed a blood test to determine Hernandez’s blood-alcohol content, but results were not available as of press time.
Hernandez is in the country illegally and would be turned over to immigration authorities after facing the charges and possible sentencing, Smith said. He is currently held at the Jackson County Detention Center in lieu of a $30,000 bond.
Traffic was backed up about five hours.
The Highway Patrol accident reconstruction unit returned to the scene Tuesday afternoon, Smith said.