By Dave Russell

A Saturday, Nov. 16 head-on collision near the 75-mile marker of U.S. 74/441 between the Gateway Flea Market and Starlight Motel killed two people.

Daniel Ladlee, 45, of Hendersonville, was driving eastbound in a 2006 Nissan Xterra when he ran off the road to the right. He hit the guardrail and crossed back over the eastbound lanes and into the westbound lanes.

He struck a 2004 Toyota Celica driven by Erica Jones, 40, of Milan, Georgia, head on. She and her passenger, Rodney Jones, 58, also of Milan, died on the scene, N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper Tyson Crawford said. The pair were husband and wife.

Ladlee told Crawford he was trying to avoid another vehicle when he lost control. Crawford said both cars were going near the speed limit.

Traffic was funneled into one lane and backup was minimal, Crawford said. Ladlee faces charges of misdemeanor death by vehicle, driving left of center and a seatbelt violation. 

Impairment was apparently not an issue, but Crawford said authorities are awaiting blood test results.

Ladlee was transported to Mission Hospital in Asheville via Harris EMS with non-life threatening injuries. He has since been released.

Harris EMS, the Qualla Fire Department and the Jackson County Rescue Squad also responded to the scene.