Troopers: Speed a factor in Union County crash that killed 3 people

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — A major highway in Union County was closed for hours after three people were killed in a single-car crash late Thursday night.

Deputies and state troopers said the crash happened just before 10:30 p.m. on Highway 601 at Sikes Mill Road, just north of Monroe.

Witnesses told troopers that a Volkswagen Jetta drifted across the center line, hit a drainage ditch and overturned before striking a utility pole and a tree.

“It was catastrophic,” said Trooper Ray Pierce, with the North Carolina Highway Patrol. “Unfortunately, the way the vehicle left the roadway, it overturned and made impact with a power pole.”

Troopers said the driver, Gabriel Castro, 24, and two female passengers, Diana Flores, 23, and Rosa Isela Flores, 16, were killed on impact in the crash.

Officials said that neither Castro nor Flores was wearing a seat belt and that speed was involved in the crash.

“Speed appears to be an early determining factor in this,” Pierce said.

Authorities said Castro was driving with a suspended license, and records show he was charged in October with speeding to elude arrest and reckless driving. He was supposed to appear in court Friday.

Officials said the 16-year-old was enrolled in Forest Hills High School last year.

The road was reopened overnight and neighbors are now warning other drivers to slow down and put safety first.

“I know the speed limit here is 65, but I think, (on) average, people are doing 70, 80 mph coming through here," resident Tony Little said. “It’s definitely dangerous.”

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