By Dave Russell


A Friday afternoon wreck sent three people to Harris Regional Hospital with minor injuries.

A call came into the 911 Dispatch Center at 3:38 p.m. about a wreck at the intersection of U.S. 23/441 and North River Road just south of Dillsboro.

The incident began when Earl Joseph Shelton, 76, of Waynesville, was attempting a left hand turn out of North River Road onto U.S. 23/441 South, N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper T.W. Crawford said. He pulled his 2015 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck into the path of a northbound 2015 Ford pickup driven by Clyde Lamar O’Neal Jr., also 76, of Macon, Georgia.

O’Neal’s speed was estimated at 35 mph at the time of impact, with Shelton pulling out at  about 10 mph, Crawford said. 

“There was some braking by O’Neal,” Crawford said. “He slowed down quite a bit.” 

O’Neal’s tire impressions leading up to impact measured 85 feet, he said.

Shelton’s truck spun around almost 180 degrees, ending up in the southbound lane. The O’Neals’ truck spun around more than 180 degrees, coming to a halt between the lanes and facing southeast.

Shelton was the sole occupant of his vehicle. O’Neal had a passenger, his wife Linda Ryles O’Neal, 74. All three victims were transported to Harris Regional Hospital by Harris EMS, Crawford said. 

None of the injuries appeared serious, he said.

“They were just bruised up,” Crawford said. 

Traffic was backed up an hour at the most, he said. 

“We kept one lane open in each direction,” Crawford said.

In addition to the Highway Patrol, the Sylva Fire Department and Harris EMS responded.

Shelton was charged with failure to yield right of way.