PANTEGO - One man is dead and four others injured when their Jeep runs off the road and bursts into flames, trapping the driver inside.
Beaufort County Highway Patrol First Sgt. Brandon Craft confirmed 29-year-old Mario Morales Lopez from Washington died in the accident. The driver's mother, 52-year-old Ana Luz Lopez was flown to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville. Three other passengers were taken to Vidant Pungo Hospital with non life-threatening injuries. Two of those passengers were children. They have since been released.
Highway Patrol says the accident happenend after 7 p.m. Sunday on Morning Star Road near Pantego.
Annie Williams lives nearby and said the four passengers escaped but the driver was pinned inside.
"[The car] was in flames. I couldn't even tell you what kind it was. The flames. Oh it was so much. The father was trying to get out but they said he wasn't able to get out. The little boy said he might have seizures and so [the dad's] hand was hanging out the window when the car caught on the fire and he burnt instantly," Williams said.
She said neighbors tried to get the flames out with a fire extinguisher but that didn't help.
"I tried to console the little girl because she was hysterical. She was just crying and hollering and showing me her father was in the car," she said.
John McCloud said he saw the smoke and was concerned.
"First I thought it was my brother's house was on fire but then when I got there I saw that it was a car burning and I didn't want come near it," McCloud said.
The speed limit is 55 miles per hour in the area but a sign on the road does warn drivers to slow down when going around the sharp curve.
Troopers said Lopez was going at least 50 miles per hour when he crashed.
Neighbors said it's easy to overlook the sign.
"People don't see it because I'll be out there cutting the grass and I hear [the cars] sliding," McCloud said.
Troopers are not sure if seizures were to blame for the accident. The exact cause is still under investigation.
However, they said drugs and alcohol were not factors in the crash.
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