UPDATE: Passenger In Wrong-Way Accident Out Of Hospital

One of the two teenagers injured in a Nash County wrong-way crash has been released from the hospital.

Leigh Bulluck, 17, was released from WakeMed Monday. The driver of one of the vehicles, Paige Toelke, 17, has been upgraded to fair condition. The other passenger in Toelke's vehicle, Brianna McLaughlin, 17, was killed in the July 5 crash.

Troopers say the driver who caused the crash, Germain Gomez, 34, had been drinking and taken prescriptions before driving the wrong way down U.S. 64.

A toxicology report conducted at WakeMed showed no sign of drinking among Bulluck and Toelke, though Highway Patrol has said alcohol was a factor with both drivers.

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The parents of two Nash County teens who survived a deadly wrong-way accident early Tuesday morning say their children had not consumed alcohol.

The Highway Patrol said alcohol was a factor for both drivers in the crash that killed the wrong-way driver and a backseat passenger in the other car.

Troopers say 34-year-old Germain Gomez was driving westbound in the eastbound lanes of Highway 64 near Spring Hope around 2 AM Tuesday. They say he slammed into another vehicle head-on, killing Brianna McLaughlin from Rocky Mount.

Paige Toelke, the other driver, and Leigh An Bulluck are still recovering from their injuries at WakeMed.

In the statement the parents of the two 17-year-olds say there "has been misinformation reported in the media" regarding the accident. "We would like to clearly state that neither Paige nor Leigh An had alcohol in their systems at the time of the accident, as proven by the negative (0.0) blood alcohol tests administered when they arrived at the WakeMed Trauma Center."

Troopers said Wednesday that it still could be several days or possible weeks before they complete their investigation.

Wake Med says Bulluck is in fair condition while Toelke remains in serious condition at the hospital.

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Troopers released the name of the driver who was traveling in the wrong lane of U.S. 64 and crashed head on into another car carrying three 17-year-olds.

Troopers say 34-year-old Germain Gomez was driving westbound in the eastbound lanes of Highway 64 near Spring Hope around 2 AM Tuesday. They say he slammed into another vehicle head-on, killing Brianna McLaughlin from Rocky Mount.

According to Troopers, Gomez had empty beer cans in the car and prescription drugs were also found with him. They say neither drug should have been used with alcohol.

Troopers say the medicine could cause dizziness and drowsiness - and he should not have used heavy machinery, such as a vehicle.

Gomez was staying with his mother in Raleigh but had a Virginia address. Troopers say Gomez had been a legal resident of the U.S. since 1995.

Virginia court records show the 34-year-old Gomez had numerous convictions, including two for speeding, two others for being drunk in public and another for driving on a revoked license. No record of any charges for him were found in North Carolina.

The Highway Patrol says alcohol was a factor for both drivers. The other driver, Paige Toelke of Nashville, remains at WakeMed in serious condition. Troopers say it could be several days or even weeks before they know about charges in the case because they have yet to talk to the two girls who survived the crash.

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A 911 caller told dispatchers that a wrong-way driver on U.S. 64 was going 90 to 95 miles per hour in the wrong lane of the divided highway.

Minutes later that caller witnessed the Honda Accord hit a car with three teenager inside. The wrong-way driver and a passenger in the other car were killed.

It happened around 2:00 a.m. on U.S. 64 outside of Spring Hope. State troopers say they are notified around 1:55 a.m. that a man was driving a 1989 Honda westbound in the eastbound lanes. The wrong-way car apparently got onto U.S. 64 at the I-95 interchange and drove some 20 miles before the accident.

Two troopers tried to stop the Honda, but before they could it crashed into the other vehicle near Frazier Road. Inside were three 17-year-old girls.

The name of the 34-year-old man has not yet been released, while the girl killed in the other vehicle was Brianna McLaughlin of Rocky Mount. She was a back seat passenger in the vehicle and died at the scene. The driver, Paige Toelke of Nashville and front seat passenger Leigh Bullock of Rocky Mount were taken to WakeMed with serious injuries.

McLaughlin was a rising senior at Northern Nash High School.

Sgt. Wayne Finch III tells WITN News that McLaughlin was not wearing a seat belt and alcohol was a factor in both vehicles.

A woman also traveling west on the highway called Nash County 911 to report the wrong-way driver. She was speeding along on the other side of the highway to keep lawmen updated.

"He's probably going at least 90 to 95 miles an hour," the woman told 911. "Cars are flashing their lights. I don't know how many accidents he's almost been in. I just want to make sure that the cops to understand how fast he's going and we're already 15--we're almost 12 miles down the road from when I first called them."

Some 4-1/2 minutes later screams could be heard on the call as those in the car witnessed the deadly head-on crash. Other calls released included those from other drivers who narrowly missed hitting the oncoming car.

Friends of the family say McLaughlin will be laid to rest Saturday after a funeral mass at Our Lady Of Perpetual Help Church at 10:30 a.m. Visitation and a rosary will be held Friday night at Wheeler and Woodleaf Funeral Home in Rocky Mount.

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  • by ROS on Oct 24, 2011 at 07:07 AM
    Ok so if the girls had not been drinking, why do both of them have court appearances scheduled for underage drinking. Maybe a coincidence? Hmmm... (THIS IS PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE, WITN - GO TO THE COURT DOCKETS)
  • by PirateFan on Jul 14, 2011 at 11:15 AM
    Wonder if he (Gomez) was an illegal? Just curious...
    • reply
      by :) on Jul 14, 2011 at 12:20 PM in reply to PirateFan
      It does say in the article that he had been a legal resident since 1995!!!!!
      • reply
        by PirateFan on Jul 15, 2011 at 06:47 AM in reply to :)
        Thanks. Guess I missed that.
  • by POPPA Location: Winterville, NC on Jul 14, 2011 at 05:19 AM
    This is so sad for all of the Families. I am sure Bev will not put this Troopers picture up for all us to see. If he has a conscience, he'll do the right thing. I do hope he has learned not to speak and judge so quickly. The facts will come later. May each Family be Blessed today for their loss and hopefully these girls will be healed completely. POPPA
  • by Louise Location: Nashville, NC on Jul 9, 2011 at 05:18 PM
    Is there any accountability for the innuendo placed on the reptutation of the 3 young ladies who were victims of a drunk driver? Miss McLaughlin died and her friends are in serious condition yet they did nothing to bring this tragedy upon themselves. The state troopers' incorrect statement about their 'drinking' confused and further grieved their families. Brianna McLaughlin was a precious young woman with a bright, promising future; her name and outstanding reputation were temporarily marred by his statement. The trooper owes a huge apology to all 3 families involved.
    • reply
      by All children are good...until caught! on Jul 13, 2011 at 04:25 PM in reply to Louise
      Louise from Nashville...as the troopers comments were apparently incorrect, I am pretty sure he meant no ill will toward the deceased girl, the other girls or their families...what time do church activities let out there in that area...2:00 A.M.? Suspicious to say the least, but I am sure they were doing like all good children do at 2:00 A.M...!
  • by Anonymous on Jul 9, 2011 at 02:47 PM
    As a resident and taxpayer in NC, I would like to know one thing. Did the highway patrol lie or is there something larger going on? There is a little thing called Freedom of Information Act. We should know the true details by now.
  • by Lee on Jul 9, 2011 at 06:25 AM
    I'm not sure why witn wouldn't post my comment about the beer cans at the scene from the guy's car--I think that's why the HP, mistakenly, reported alcohol was a factor for both cars, probably because his cans were everywhere.
  • by WoW Location: New Bern on Jul 9, 2011 at 05:33 AM
    I wonder if driver going wrong way did so intentionally, as if it were a suicide attempt? He was going the wrong way at 90-95 mph alcohol prescription drugs.
  • by K on Jul 8, 2011 at 01:02 PM
    Wow. They really need to check FACTS before they broadcast. How damaging in an already tragic situation...
  • by Anonymous on Jul 8, 2011 at 11:32 AM
    If the HP is wrong the parents should sue their pants off!
  • by ME Location: NC on Jul 7, 2011 at 06:49 PM
    Why would the Highway Patrol make such a statement that alcohol was involved if they didn't know for a fact?

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