Charges pending in fiery crash that killed woman & granddaughter

Published: Apr. 9, 2021 at 2:33 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 12, 2021 at 11:33 AM EDT
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ONSLOW COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - Troopers say charges are pending against a Sneads Ferry woman after a fiery crash on Friday killed a woman and her granddaughter.

It happened on Highway 53 near the Pony Farm Road intersection in Onslow County.

Troopers say Erma Kennerknecht was heading east when her vehicle drifted onto the shoulder, she overcorrected and then crossed into a turn lane.

Michelle Whaley, 53, of Beulaville, was heading west and tried to avoid the oncoming car, but was hit head-on. Her vehicle overturned, hit a ditch, and burst into flames.

Whaley died at the scene, along with an 8-year-old passenger, Amberlyn McMillian, also of Beulaville. A 9-year-old girl also in the car was injured, troopers said.

The Highway Patrol did not have any information on the relationship between Whaley and the two girls, but the funeral home handling the services says the woman was the 8-year-old’s grandmother.

A bystander was injured as well who was trying to help those trapped inside the vehicle.

Troopers say they are consulting with the District Attorney’s Office about charges against Kennerknecht.


Two people are dead in a fiery vehicle crash in Onslow County this afternoon.

It happened on Highway 53 near the intersection of Pony Farm Road.

The Highway Patrol says one vehicle caught fire in the crash and that two people were trapped inside. There were three other injuries, including a bystander who was hurt while trying to assist. They were transported to Naval Medical Center with conditions unknown.

Authorities say Highway 53, between Haws Run Road and Foy Lockamy Road, was closed for most of the afternoon as troopers investigated the crash.

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