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Thursday, May 30, 2024

1 killed, 3 injured in 5-car accident near Burgaw

Driver liable for accident charged with DWI, reckless driving

PENDER COUNTY — A head-on collision along U.S. 117 in Pender County has resulted in one death and multiple injuries, involving up to five vehicles. (Courtesy photo)

PENDER COUNTY — A head-on collision along U.S. 117 in Pender County has resulted in one death and multiple injuries, involving up to five vehicles.

On Thursday around 1:55 p.m., a concerned citizen called 911 to report a vehicle operating erratically. According to State Highway Patrol Sgt. Jason Casteen, “within moments of the 911 call,” the driver of a 2010 Ford Edge crossed the center line and struck an ambulance carrying a patient enroute to Novant New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

State Highway Patrol was dispatched to the scene, at the 2700 block of U.S. 117 south near Burgaw and performed the investigation.

The Pender EMS paramedic driving the ambulance, Holly Bauer, sustained serious injuries, as did advanced EMT Catherine Wortman, who was on board, caring for the patient in the rear of the vehicle. Both were transported to Novant NHRMC and remain in the hospital as of Friday morning.

The patient, 54-year-old Lynnette Smalley of Jacksonville, was injured during the crash. While crews performed life-saving measures, she was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the Ford Edge, 34-year-old Cassandra Nicole Soga, is being charged with driving while impaired, reckless driving, and driving left of center.

Casteen said a blood sample was taken from Soga and it’s being sent to the crime lab for analysis.

“We are expecting more serious charges,” he said at a Friday press conference.

Soga also sustained serious injuries and was flown by air ambulance to Novant NHRMC; the Rocky Point resident remains in critical condition. 

Casteen said he has not yet been able to interview Soga for the investigation. 

Three other vehicles were also involved in the accident. Two were traveling behind the ambulance and had to swerve to avoid the collision. Both ran off the road to the right and their cars were damaged. 

A third vehicle sustained damage from debris.

In total 13 victims were involved, including children.


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