LINCOLN COUNTY, N.C. - A woman has died after driving off the road in a minivan and slamming into a tree in Lincoln County, the North Carolina Highway Patrol said.
The woman was identified by police as Heather Jane Hodge, 29, of Crouse.
The deadly crash happened on Highway 182 west of Lincolnton on Thursday around 9:15 a.m.
Investigators said Hodge, who was not wearing a seat belt, was partially ejected from the car and died at the scene while her 4-year-old son managed to climb out of the wreckage.
Channel 9 learned that another driver stopped after spotting the crash and saw the little boy standing in a nearby driveway.
“It’s bad regardless of who it was,” neighbor Max Marlow said. “With the woman passing away and stuff, it’s bad. The little boy (was) standing in the driveway over there and a couple of people stopped in the truck, and put him in their truck.”
Officials said the boy was properly restrained by a seat belt but not properly in a child restraint during the crash.
He was transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Several of the firefighters and rescuers who responded to the crash have children of their own.
“It’s important for us to take care of our responders,” EMS director Kim Campbell said. “When they encounter an incident like this, it is never easy, especially with the holidays just passing, it makes it more difficult at times.”
Investigators said they don't know at this point what caused the crash, but the road was wet.
Police are still investigating the accident.
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