MOUNT OLIVE, DUPLIN COUNTY - A Duplin County high school teacher assistant was killed in a wreck Tuesday morning while on her way to work, officials said.
According to the Highway Patrol, 45-year-old Stephanie Hardy Alphin ran off Garner Chapel Road, near Highway 403 east of Mt. Olive. Alphin then over-corrected, hit a ditch, and struck a power pole, troopers said. The wreck happened at about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Troopers said Alphin's 16-year-old daughter drove up to the scene after the accident and realized the victim was her mother. Alphin died from her injuries, said investigators.
Alphin's cousin, Phyllis Tucker, went to Alphin's home after the wreck to pay condolences to family members.
"She loved you. She'd always say she loved you before she left you. She was a very caring person," Tucker said. "I just sat there and cried. She's in heaven. She turned the lights back on."
Alphin was a teacher assistant at North Duplin High School, where she was working as an online course facilitator, school officials said. She had been employed with Duplin County Schools since 2002.
"Stephanie loved the world. Stephanie loved to see kids go on and follow their dreams. Stephanie loved to see kids venture out," said Tucker. "Stephanie could be sick, had a cold, whatever. She didn't let that get in the way. If a kid needed her, she was there."
Alphin was on her way to work when the accident happened, said school officials.
Duplin County Schools Superintendent Austin Obasohan released the following statement in response to Alphin's death.
"Our Duplin County School's family is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Mrs. Alphin. She was passionate about ensuring her students had whatever necessary to be successful in their courses. On behalf of the Board of Education, our thoughts and our prayers go out to Mrs. Alphin's family. We are also praying for the entire North Duplin Community and will do everything we can to support them as they work through this truly difficult time."
Additional guidance counselors and social workers are helping students and staff as needed.
Alphin lived on Garner Chapel Road, about 2 miles from where the accident happened. Troopers said they are investigating that caused the victim to run off the road.
The crash briefly knocked out power for residents in the area. No other vehicle was involved, according to investigators.
Alphin was the second Duplin County teacher to die from a car accident since November.
Troopers said Lori Smith Pierce was driving on Highway 111 west of Haw Branch Road near Richlands on the morning of Nov. 16. That was when she ran off the road to the right and hit a tree, said investigators.
The 39-year-old Pierce was pulled off life support a few days later, troopers said. She was an English teacher at Wallace-Rose Hill High School in Teachey.