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1 dead, others hurt when van strikes pedestrians at NC footrace, officials say

Ambulance (Dreamstime/TNS)

A popular 5-mile footrace near Linville, North Carolina, had to be canceled after a van collided with pedestrians, killing one and injuring several others, according to investigators.

The woman who died has been identified as 72-year-old Julie Holderness of Greensboro, the N.C. Highway Patrol told McClatchy News.

Four others were hurt, including two who required hospitalization and one who was treated at the scene by medics, the State Highway Patrol said. Holderness died after being taken to Cannon Memorial Hospital in Linville, officials said.

The crash happened just before 7 p.m. on Thursday when a footrace known as “The Bear” was about to begin as part of the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, according to event officials. Linville is about 110 miles northwest of Charlotte in Avery County.

Investigators say a group of pedestrians and race participants were gathered in the parking lot of Chestnut Construction on U.S. 221 when “when a Ford Econoline van … attempted to leave a parked position and accelerated into a group of pedestrians.”

“After impact with the pedestrians, the van struck a John Deere Gator utility vehicle and came to a final rest,” the State Highway Patrol reports.

“SHP investigators do not believe the act to have been intentional. … The investigation remains ongoing.”

Van driver James Russell Deni, 80, of Boone, “has been charged with unsafe movement and misdemeanor death by vehicle,” officials said.

The injured include:

“Pedestrian: Jesse D. Pipes, 43, of Boone, N.C. Hospitalized for leg injuries.

Pedestrian: Ralph E. Summey III, 61, of Shelby, N.C. Hospitalized for knee/leg injuries.

Pedestrian: Unknown name, refused EMS treatment and elected not to be interviewed by investigators.

John Deere Gator Operator: Adrien J. Herbison, 45, of Newland, N.C. Treated for leg and neck injuries.”

“On behalf of myself and the entire Grandfather Mountain Highland Games organization and family, we are deeply saddened by tonight’s devastating event and extend our condolences to those affected,” Grandfather Mountain Highland Games President Steve Quillin said in the news release.


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