N.C. Department of Transportation responds to Catfish Lake Road crashes

N.C. Department of Transportation responds to Catfish Lake Road crashes

CRAVEN COUNTY - The North Carolina Department of Transportation says there have been 125 crashes on Catfish Lake Road over the past 6.5 years. DOT officials say seventy-percent of those crashes were due to drivers riding at unsafe speeds.

Since the fall of 2009, ten people have died on Catfish Lake Road due to fatal wrecks. Five of them were Marines, three of them were children and two of them were adults.

The most recent wreck took the lives of two 19-year old Camp Lejeune Marines.

According to troopers, PFC Skyler Way and LCpl. Nick Buscarnera, both 19, were found dead in an overturned car in a canal off Catfish Lake Road Tuesday night. The road is in the Croatan National Forest. Authorities say speed was a factor in the crash.

The road is maintained by the North Carolina Department of Transportation. It extends from Craven County to Jones County, and is commonly used as a shortcut for people to navigate through Jacksonville and Havelock.

NewsChannel 12 spoke with the North Carolina Department of Transportation Division Traffic Engineer for Craven County, Steve Hamilton, who helps oversee the road. He says because the road is unpaved it is slippery, and subject to change due to the weather. However, Hamilton says it's not the road that is the problem, but instead, the speed people are driving.

Hamilton says all of the ten fatalities that have happened on Catfish Lake Road were related to people exceeding safe limits while on the road.

The suggested speed limit is 55 mph.

"I wouldn't say the road itself is a dangerous road, the driving behavior of the motorists who drive on the road is dangerous," Hamilton said. "The road is a fairly good road for an unpaved road, it's wide, big sections, wide open on the side. But motorist get this false sense of security that they can drive faster on this road than they should. Trying to drive 55, 65, 75 miles on that road is like trying to drive that same speed on a sheet of ice."

When asked if there would be any changes to the road, Hamilton said there is nothing proposed at this time. He did mention that years ago, there were talks about doing something to the road, but nothing ever came of it.

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