The woman who lost her life was barely 33 years old. She had been 33, in fact, for just an hour and a half, out taking a walk after midnight on the first morning of her new year, along the winding Stokes County road that passed by the home where she lived with her mother.
By that afternoon, Sunday, Aug. 12, 19-year-old Jacob Taylor Nunn, of King, North Carolina, would be charged with causing her death by hitting her with his truck. The charges are driving while impaired, felony hit and run, and a provisional drivers license violation of drinking and driving while underage.
The incident was covered by several news teams (including The Winston-Salem Journal, WXII Channel 12, WGHP Fox 8, and The Stokes News). Investigators said they have conflicting accounts of what took place, but the events were essentially as follows:
Jacob Nunn was driving on Edwards Farm Road around 1:30 a.m., heading either to a friend’s house or home from a friend’s house, when his cell phone rang.
An older model Chevrolet S-10 compact pickup truck.
Nunn said in a statement to the N.C. Highway Patrol that as he looked down at the phone, he felt a bump and thought he had hit a deer with his small pickup truck, a 2001 Chevy S-10. Nunn said that he at some point noticed damage to the truck and drove home.
There he began to wonder just what he had struck, said one investigating officer: “He didn’t see deer hair, and he got to thinking, ‘What did I really hit?”
Nunn called his father. The father, or both father and son, and possibly some friends as well, (reports vary) went to the site of the accident. Someone found the young woman’s body; someone called 911 a couple of minutes before 3 a.m.
According to a trooper, Jacob Nunn’s blood alcohol content registered .05 percent at about 6 a.m.
Few other details have been released, except that the woman’s body was found just yards away from home, and that the mother told authorities her daughter often went out walking late at night.
The investigation is continuing, of course, and some questions will be answered, beginning with why and how a 19-year-old charged with DWI would get alcohol. The young man charged in this case was a standout athlete in high school and played a season in college, highly praised by his coaches for his hard work and self-discipline.
But youth, strength and sober self-discipline are no match for the combination of alcohol and the automobile. Experimentation begins early – UNC’s Highway Safety Research Center reports that almost half of North Carolina’s high school students reported drinking during the past 30 days. Alcohol turns the exuberance and strength of youth into recklessness and a sense of invulnerability.
Despite our drunken driving laws, our system of graduated licenses for young drivers, our “Booze It & Lose It” campaigns, deaths continue. Whatever is learned in the investigation of Sunday’s fatal crash, certain facts are already clear. One person’s life is lost. Another person’s life stands at the brink of ruin.
We can only hope this convoluted and heart-breaking story can set some other young drivers on a straight path, and save other lives not yet lost.