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FIRST ON 3: 17-year-old dead after falling from truck on Cape Fear Memorial Bridge


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A teenager is dead after falling out of a truck bed on the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge Friday night.

Wilmington Police say the 17-year-old victim had been riding in the back of a pickup truck driven by his foster father, Jerry James Highsmith, 62, from Willard. Investigators say the victim had been attempting to secure a box spring and mattress in the bed of the pickup truck by laying on them.

When the truck reached the top of the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge just before 8:15 p.m. Friday, Highsmith said a gust of wind lifted both the mattress and box springs, with the victim, out of the bed of the pickup truck and onto the bridge span. The boy suffered fatal head trauma, but was not hit by any other vehicles.

Witnesses told investigators the truck was going well below the speed limit

Wilmington Police Department traffic investigators, after consulting with the New Hanover County District Attorney's office, will not pursue any criminal charges, once the crash report is complete.

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Once again I am truly amazed by the Human Race!! You all should be ashamed of yourselves... How dare you attack this situation. I was there on the bridge administering CPR to this boy who by the way could have been anyone of our kids.... But to Viciously Attack these parents at such a tragic time you should be ashamed of yourselves!!!!!! To be on that bridge was absolutely horrible it was a tragic accident, at first I was also appalled by the situation Why was he in the back of that truck, He is in the states care, Why did it have to happen, Why wasn't there anything that they could have done to prevent this,Why couldn't I do more to bring him back???? Why Dear Lord Why?? To the Parents I am so so so Sorry this happened to your son, He was not on the bridge long before people arrived, seconds actually,He did not suffer!! and he was with people who cared prior to his passing and during his passing we did everything we could considering the circumstances. To everyone who loved Frank I extend my sorrow and condolences. To all of you negative hateful people REALLY get a F@%$ing Life and again put yourself in someone elses shoes before you open your mouth, we are talking about a boy, a son, a friend, a HUMAN BEING for crying out loud! There is truly a lesson to be learned from all of this.... Not one of us is promised tomorrow Cherish everyone and everyday! Thank You Frank for refreshing my memory on that RIP Young Brother!!!!!!!

Franks Friend

If you new Frank like his friends at PHS did, then you'd know he probably wanted to sit in the back, little did he know that would be his last ride ever and im sure that if he knew that the wind and the bouncing would be so bad, im sure he probably would not have done this but if you knew Frank he was always one to show off during class just to be able to tell you that "yeah i did that once and this is what happened" and he would tell you these long stories of him doin these crazy things even if it wasnt the whole truth he stilled had a way of making you smile about it.I know that most people probably think it was stupid of the father (i say this with all intetions because when he said dad he didnt put FOSTER DAD or MY FOSTER FATHER that was his DAD) to allow his child to ride in the back but hey he did it a million times and probably didnt think that would be his last it was Frank and we all know he loved to help weather it was wanted or not he was just that kind of person. Frank was a great person if you got to know him and i hate that, that happened to him i bawled my eyes out when my best friend called me conferming the news, i just cant believe that he's gone (so unreal). So please to all the negative thoughts out there; If its not helping its not needed so please dont talk about OUR FRIEND like that or his dad. We all loved Frank!!!!! and please i would like to know when the service is and where its gonna take place

Here are the facts in a nutshell...the basics.

Riding in the back of a pickup truck isn't dangerous as long as you sit down low and drive slowly through the country or your farmland. Sitting on the side or sitting on the tailgate can easily get you killed. Being involved in an accident can have devastating consequenses for those in the back of the truck.

Now, not realizing that a mattress and boxspring turn into an airplane wing at 30 mph. Well...nuff said 'bout that. We all (at least most of us) know the answer to that riddle!


Wait a minute...The Bridge was not wearing its' I am Trayvon issued black hoodie.

Guess we need to tear down the bridge now instead realizing that bad things happen. No rhyme or reason. They just do. Even to good people.

That's why they are called accidents. I really feel bad for the driver. Got weight on his shoulders.

This has got to race driven

This has got to race driven right....come on Rev. Sharpton, there hads got to be some political gain to be had here......lets junp to conclusions and ignor the judicail process...

Tragic accident, but honestly, we are talking about a 62 year old man driving the vehicle....where is the common sense.


You are an idiot, and a very ignorant one at that! A life was lost, and not one person has said anything about it being the bridges fault they said it was a freak accident ya moron! Furthermore I fail to see the connection to Trayvons tragic end! Leave it to a back ass hillbilly to say very ignorant things about two teens who lost their lives in tragic events. If you can't pray or send condolences to the loved ones then keep your negative and heartless comments to yourselves. That goes for more than just you too. Two teens lost their lives in two completely different situations that are not for you to pass judgement on or to speak on with your obviously uneducated ignorance. I will pray for you because it is obvious that quite a few of you need it!


You are an idiot, and a very ignorant one at that! A life was lost, and not one person has said anything about it being the bridges fault they said it was a freak accident ya moron! Furthermore I fail to see the connection to Trayvons tragic end! Leave it to a back ass hillbilly to say very ignorant things about two teens who lost their lives in tragic events. If you can't pray or send condolences to the loved ones then keep your negative and heartless comments to yourselves. That goes for more than just you too. Two teens lost their lives in two completely different situations that are not for you to pass judgement on or to speak on with your obviously uneducated ignorance. I will pray for you because it is obvious that quite a few of you need it!

The 62 yo Father and driver

The 62 yo Father and driver of the Truck from Wilard is a Dumb AS-. He should give up his License and never venture out of wilard again. It's more than he can handle.

to the family

It's obvious no matter what happens people will be heartless. A child a human being life was lost from a accident. I don't think their is on (PERFECT) person in this world.Life is giving & taken by the most high.To those who have made sarcastic remarks I don't think you would appreciate that to well if it had been your loved one.Let this family mourn peacefully if you feel a certain way thats you but somethings are better kept to self. Sure it was a accident but unfortunately everyone's not a weather man & woman. Send a prayer to the family instead of sarcasim. This accident can help the next person be aware & prevent something like this from happening again but have a heart for a moment for the resting soul & his family...My Prayers go to the family.

mama looking for $$$

I'm surprised, all mama wants to do is talk blaming someone else...She's already announced that she will start the lawsuit Monday morning...please mother, let your son get buried before going after money...You gave birth to that "behavioral problem child", I bet you coddled him and never made him mind, so you finally let the state "take the problem"...oh yeah, while suing for money, just think of all the food stamps and medicaid that the state gave you all along the way...just sayin.

Wicked and heartless comments!

Your comment was wicked and heartless.

Not one time has the parent mentioned that she is going after money. She wants to get to the bottom of the matter;why her son was sitting on the back of that truck in the first place. Why did the Police Department and DA did not press charges???

Got it?

If you cannot say anything positive about this sad situation, go somewhere and ask God to have mercy on your cold-hearted soul, and to teach you how to keep your ignorant mouth closed!

This woman lost a son for goodness sake!


There is a LAW in the state of NC that you can ride in the back of a pick up truck if you are 16 years of age. This boy was 17 he fit into that category if you didn't grasp that, maybe I could paint you a picture. This man who was his foster parent did nothing wrong and I am sure today he is just as sad as the mother however, the child was in a home provided by the state because the mother must have done something where she was unable to provide for the child or take care of the child. Someone else was taking care of her child for her at the States expense and now she want to file law suits, the man driving the truck did nothing wrong freak accident! This just goes back to the little girl that died on the school bus, she was in a state provided home and the mother was the first to blame. TYPICAL!

You know this is such a

You know this is such a tragic accident! I hear so much about the things that are dangerous now that were not dangerous 10 years ago from the kind of paint you use in a child's bedroom to the way your baby sleeps at night! I have rode in the back of so many pick up trucks holding china hutchs, mattress's, bicycles and no telling what else! I have a 17 year old as well and I could see myself doing the same thing with him, however you always try to tie things down to a certain degree. I am not familiar with this family at all, but I am sure that there is so much pain today in so many people's hearts! What I should have done but what I did not! My prayers as a mother (divorced as well) is pain and always the question of 'why"! No matter what is done this child can not be brought back, I hope that we as parents will learn from this as well! Prayers going out to you all! My heart aches over this entire situation and I will continue to lift you all up in prayer!

Falling & blown out of Trucks

First, My TOTAl condolances too the Family of the 17 year Old.
It was a absolute trady/accident.. period.

For those saying tie down matterises' etc.. Let me suggest...
WALKING across the CFMB at the center span..
ON a CALM day... As your walking along the "rail" you will notice the Harmonic/wave(s) walking in that part of the Span,, IT BOUNCES...
you'll feel like your in a small boat in the ocean.. BOUNCING, I've had to "grab" the rails as 18 Wheeled trucks cross, as they WILL bounce you almost off the side railing, (where you can walk & cross).
Coupled with wind, even Walking across this bridge, your putting yourself at "Mercy " & Nature... I know, I've walked across numerious times. As well as ridden across, once on mattress's & such, TIEed down in the back of a truck, as this young Man was doing.. I myself was almost blown out then Myself. With "Light" SW 10~15 MPH winds. I learned My lesson LOoong ago, riding in the back of trucks..1986
Riding in the back, with the "Cab" full, I was forced to ride in the bed... The driver, coming towards the Bridge, came upon the corner,curb,coming up onto before running up the bridge, @ 70 MPH, throwing Me out the side, as I tried to hold on, trying to climb back into the bed, the rear tire grabbed me by my left foot, "yanking me out of the truck"..The driver/passenger(s) never knew, until they looked back and i wasn't there.. Turning around finding Me along side of the road.., Thinking I just had "road Rash" they went on "Partying" until they realized I wouldn't wake up. My left arm the size of a basketball because of internal bleeding..They then took Me to NHMH. Thankfully, i wasn't run over.. I was 25 then, sometimes STILL i wish I never survived, becoming a Amputee, that suffers from Phamptom pains/attacks every DAY of My life, unable to use a Prostesis, suffering from "Later" pains in places long thought healed and a messed up back. Many of you Wilmington people have MET & seen Me before, working on your car or truck.. Or Commerical Fishing.. I worked harder than most, yet I was told, "I was *expendable*, because of employers feeling sorry for Me".eg WORSLY Co.& Precision Tune. * OR DMF* (Division of Marine Fisheries), "tageting" Me, because I busted My azz, bringing in the same amount of "catch"regular people did, despite being a Amputee, accused of doing "Illegal" things, resulting in the Loss of My commerical Fishing License?Because I had the DRIVE, to PROVE Myself, amongst others..To provide for My 2 Daughters, a Single Parent, I HAD at one time something to prove, but NO more...
Doing so just, in my later years, (I'm now 50), has brought PAIN in My body EVERY DAY of My life.. Some days, I just want to *end it*...Thankfully, I have a "compassionate" Doc, that realizes My "history" plus numerious MRI's, x-rays, (yes i "glow"), prescribing Me medication to get by on my worst days..
I was LUCKY, remember a few years back, the feller thrown out of a Truck Bed moving at 25MPH and DIED... At Carolina Beach..
I PRAY this young Man didn't suffer... He is in the Lord's arms now.. I thank the Lord He will NOT/or would not be put through, jobs and socitey, women, interviews, looking at you with "disgust", etc, etc.. As I have, If He had lived..
RIP Young feller, I pray for you...In addition......
How many times on "commutes" across this Bridge you've seen "derbis" furniture, etc that has been "blown off" trucks etc, coming either way off the bridge?Even "tied down"????? More than once I bet..
Though, NOT being part of the nanny state, be safe people, have a strap/rope whatever, to keep you "secured", in advent of a tragic accident, it shouldn't be "law" but, please, USE COMMON SENSE.
I don't wish ANYONE to live life as I have, after being thrown out of a truck, and "surviving" .....Peace,

I call....

This is the biggest BS story I've ever read!! LMAO!

My condolences go out to

My condolences go out to this family. A family working together for something they needed......a bed when tragedy sruck. I am sure as a parent there is no words I can say to help that hurt right now. I have rode in the back of a pickup truck, my children have, most Americans have it was simply a terrible ACCIDENT. Please know that there are many that arent worried about passing another law. That aren't pointing fingers, that have you in their thoughts and prayers at this time. Truth is we are born to die and everyone will pass away a different way, but if we lived in a bubble we would die of something still when our time was up.

Foster child

People are so easy to sweep it under the rug cause it is a 17 year old legal to be in the back of a truck.But that man was a foster man then he should have know to tie the mattress to the truck and let the kid ride in the car. He was someones son and maybe there was neglect on the foster care man. Maybe that is where the boy had to be not by choice.


Anyone bother to check the actual winds speeds along the Cape Fear River at 8pm that evening? You'd be surprised...

No Violation?

I can't understand why the driver of the truck wasn't charged with failing to secure a load and misd. death by motor vehicle. Maybe the Officers and District Attorney needs to pull out their Chapter 20 laws. Ie, the story says, no charges are expected to be filed. If I was the investigating officer, I would have charged the above, without consulting the DA. The DA is not an investigator, that is left up to the Law Enforcement Officer on the scene. If they aren't trained to investigate traffic accidents without having to first consult with the DA, they shouldn't be put in that position!!!

No clue

You don't have a clue as to how law enforcement works. Even if the officer decided not to consult with the DA and charged the driver, the DA could then just dismiss the charge.

the law

For everyone concerned about the law for kids riding in the back of a truck, why not be more concerned with the fact that a minor died because the people trusted to take care of him used him to hold down a mattress rather than using something such as, oh I don't know, ROPE!!! It amazes me the concern humans show for gross negligence when it comes to children. Guess that's why DSS doesn't do any more than they do. Nobody cares until someone dies...


What horrible freaky way to go. Its unbelievable the stupidity in this world....Guess they never heard of rope.

This is what they make lashings for.

You're supposed to tie mattresses and box springs down wth ropes and lashings, not stack people on top of them to hold them down. What a very unfortunate use of judgement. More valuable entries for the Darwin Files, one didn't.

Was this a turnip truck ?

Please excuse my naivety!

Horrible accident

But you cannot save people from themselves. Imagine what $2 worth of rope would have saved...

Pickup truck incident

From what was posted on the Star News....the guy was sitting on top of a mattress and boxsprings that were laying in the truck sideways, and a gust of wind blew it all out, including the guy. Sounds to me like the driver had an unsecure load, and should at least be charged with that. It's a shame that the guy died like that.

I Agree with skier. This is

I Agree with skier. This is the first time I can recollect hearing about someone killed this way. I do recall however, every year a number of high school athletes perishing.
I never thought seat belt laws made any sense. Perhaps it too should be a privlidge, maybe if you get a ticket the sheriff should go to your house and cut them out of the car!

Could everyone stop debating

Could everyone stop debating laws and complaining about the WPD and start praying for the friends and family of this young person who was tragically taken! I myself don't understand how it could happen but it did and the family needs support right now. Not a bunch of debaters trying to justify what's right and what's wrong about the laws!

My Son

This unidentified make was my son. And he has a name Franklin Crosby and for all the posts the one about life being dangerous let one of your kids get killed and see if you have that same out look. He should have not been in the back of a truck if your grown and you want to do it that is you he was 17. So get facts straight before you start taking up for people that should have been watching over him like the state.


AND YOU SHOULD HAD HAD CUSTODY OF YOUR KIDS ,, HOW MANY YEARS DID YOU HAVE TO GET STRAIGHT>? LOOK IN THE MIRROR LOWLIFE ITS YOUR OWN FAULT, Frakilin paid the ultimate for your mistakes for years, he didnt get to see his syblings because of you , you had so many chances to get it right, YOU have no CLASS AT ALL,