Residents turn to Facebook to combat Hampstead traffic issues


HAMPSTEAD, NC (WWAY) — A FedEx driver is facing misdemeanor death by motor vehicle charges after hitting a car head-on, killing the driver. Residents say crashes like these continue to occur on a stretch of Highway 17, and now they are taking their concerns to county leaders and social media.

Troopers say in December alone, there have been more than 30 crashes in the Hampstead area of Highway 17. Of those collisions, troopers say nine have resulted in injuries, with one fatality just yesterday.

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That incident happened Monday afternoon around 4:30 p.m. near the Belvedere Plantation. Troopers say the FedEx driver, Mark Carr II, was attempting to make a left turn when he hit a vehicle head on. Betty Padgett, 68, was driving the car and was killed; her husband, Milton Padgett, 86, was also injured in the crash. He was transported to New Hanover Regional Medical Center where he remains in serious condition. Carr was also injured in the crash but has since been charged in the incident.

Resident Betsy Perry says the traffic has been a problem for the past 15 years, since the road was widened. Perry says two fatal crashes in one week a couple of years ago prompted her to start a Facebook page, “Hampstead For a Safe 17.” Another page, “Hampstead Alerts,” was started just a day or so ago to continue the conversation online.

“Trying to get people to be aware of what’s going on,” Perry said. “Trying to get people to slow down, trying to get people to get in contact with DOT and different agencies that might be able to help out.”

Followers of the pages post pictures of accidents and other traffic information. Perry says another topic of discussion has been a plan by the DOT to put in a median. Perry says that is causing concerns as well.

“There are a lot of pros and cons to it. I think the worst part of it is that it’s going to be hard for emergency vehicles to turn around,” Perry said.

The median project is still in the draft phase. Perry says at the end of the day, the community needs to come together and work on fixing the problems.

“I want the speeding to stop. Get together and be aware,” Perry said.

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