Wreck claims two who were riding in pickup bed

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 29, 2007

FRANKLIN—Two women who were riding in the bed of a pickup truck when it crashed near Franklin early Sunday morning are dead as a result of their injuries.

The truck, a 1999 Dodge Ram Super Cab, was northbound on Route 258 near Sycamore Church Road, headed to Franklin from Murfreesboro, N.C., when it ran off the road on the right at about 3:10 a.m. The truck then drove through a ditch, hit a utility pole and ran into a wire fence, according to state police reports.

Three people were riding in the cab, and three were in the bed at the time of the accident. The driver and passengers were all from the Murfreesboro area.

Tabitha Carpenter, 19, was ejected from the bed of the pickup and was pronounced dead at the scene. Jessica Pope, 23, was flown by helicopter to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, where she died as a result of her injuries.

Four others, including the driver, were transported by ambulance to Southampton Memorial Hospital, where they were treated and released for minor injuries.

The driver, 18-year-old Carl Wiltsie III, was charged with reckless driving. Trooper H.B. Johnson leads the continuing investigation.

State law prohibits people from riding in the beds of pickup trucks if they are younger than 16.

But the law makes exceptions for those 16 and older, as well as for farmers crossing a highway to go from one field to another.