CLEVELAND COUNTY, N.C. — State troopers are investigating a wreck that killed three people, including two teenagers, late Monday night in Cleveland County.
The crash happened around 10 p.m. at South Post Road near the intersection of Cleveland Avenue, south of Shelby.
Troopers said the driver of a Ford Taurus, Toby Reinhardt, 19, ran off the side of the road. He overcorrected, crossed the center line and hit another car head-on, troopers said.
Jacob Wright, 18, and Antonio Brown, 27, were also inside the Taurus and died.
None of the three were wearing seat belts, troopers said.
(Reinhardt, Brown and Wright)
The two people inside the other car survived and were taken to Cleveland Regional Hospital and Carolinas Medical Center Shelby. Their conditions have not been released.
Family said that the three had gone to a store and were about three minutes from Reinhardt's home.
Reinhardt's father told reporter Ken Lemon that his son's last words to him were, "I love you."
Greg Reinhardt said his son was as happy as he had ever seen him. He started going to church and kept notes from Bible verses in his wallet.
"I still don't believe it right now,” the father said. “I still want my son to walk across the yard and say, ‘Hey dad.’"
Reinhardt's father and uncle urged drivers to wear their seat belts.
"Please, please buckle up," Johne Reinhardt, the uncle, said. "It means the difference between life and death."
Lemon also spoke to Brown's fiancée who said the two planned to get married in April. She also pleaded with drivers to buckle up.
"It hurts," Candida Greene said. "I miss him and I love him."
Speed may have played a factor in the crash, troopers said. They said they don't know if impairment played a role in the wreck.
Troopers said there have now been 21 traffic-related deaths this year in Cleveland County, which is twice as many as in 2015.
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Cox Media Group