By Kristin Zachary
Monday, March 4, 2013
An SUV collided with a wrecked car Saturday on U.S. 264, sending the car crashing into its driver, an East Carolina University student, as he exited and was run over by another vehicle, troopers said.
The early-morning incident west of Greenville involved four separate crashes and claimed the life of 20-year-old sophomore Robert Steven Perez of Centreville, Va.
The university has reached out to Perez’ family and plans to provide counseling and support to friends and fellow students, according to Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Virginia Hardy.
“The loss of one of our students is a deeply tragic event,” Hardy said. “We mourn that loss along with Robert’s family and friends and will support them during this time in any way we can.”
Perez lived off campus and was a business major, Hardy said.
He was traveling eastbound on U.S. 264 about 5:25 a.m. in a 2009 Chevrolet Impala when he crossed into the median, Sgt. W.A. Crane of the State Highway Patrol said.
“It looks like he abruptly went to the median,” but investigators are not sure what caused Perez to lose control, he said.
“He struck the protective barrier, but he struck it at the end where it ran out and there were cables, so it allowed his vehicle to continue into the westbound lanes,” Crane said.
The Impala came to a rest facing northeast in the westbound lanes, and Perez attempted to exit the vehicle, Crane said. As Perez was exiting, or immediately after he exited, his car was struck by a 1998 Chevrolet Blazer.
The impact from the Blazer, driven by 31-year-old Jeffrey Cary-Coleman of Greenville, sent the Impala into Perez, either throwing or pinning him, Crane said.
“With the physical damage of the vehicle and some evidence that we found, it appeared that when the Blazer hit his Impala, he either was standing next to it or getting out of it, and the Impala struck him,” Crane said. “His own car.”
Cary-Coleman was traveling about 70 mph in the 70 mph zone and took evasive action but was not able to avoid the Impala, he said. The Greenville man exited the SUV after the crash.
A 2004 BMW passenger car driven by Sharon Robinson, 48, of Winterville then crashed into the Blazer.
Shortly after the third wreck, a 2006 Buick passenger car driven by Olivia Steward, 30, of Greenville ran over Perez, Crane said.
“It wasn’t a fatal blow,” he said. “I think they hit the bottom part of his legs.”
Perez was transported to Vidant Medical Center, but it is unclear if he died before reaching the hospital. He had several injuries, including trauma to his head and legs, Crane said.
The other drivers sustained minor injuries. Cary-Coleman was treated by EMS on the scene.
“He was injured, but he actually walked away,” Crane said.
Robinson was transported to Vidant Medical Center with minor injuries. Steward’s vehicle was not damaged in the wreck.
State Highway Patrol and the Red Oak Community Rural Fire Department responded to the scene. Officials with the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office later responded to assist with traffic. The westbound lanes were blocked while crews worked to clear the scene.
U.S. 264 West reopened about three hours later at 8:30 a.m.
No charges have been filed. The incident remains under investigation.
Perez’ death comes about a week after the university dedicated a memorial sculpture garden on campus for students whose lives have been lost.
Contact Kristin Zachary at email@example.com and 252-329-9566 and follow her on Twitter @kzacharygdr.
via The Daily Reflector.