17 injured after church van, SUV collide on NC highway

Two victims had to be flown by emergency helicopter for treatment; there were no fatalities

Associated Press

STOKESDALE, N.C. — A van carrying a Virginia church group crashed into an SUV that crossed into its lane on a North Carolina highway early Sunday, sending 17 people to hospitals, the State Highway Patrol said.

The injured ranged in age from a one month to 90-years-old, and two had to be flown by emergency helicopter for hospital treatment, the State Highway Patrol said. There were no fatalities as of Sunday afternoon.

Fifteen of those hurt were aboard a rented van carrying members of a Jehovah's Witness congregation from Martinsville, Virginia, to Salisbury, North Carolina, troopers said in a news release. The van was traveling southwest on U.S. Highway 158 near Stokesdale at around 7 a.m. when a northbound Chevrolet Blazer crossed the road's centerline, troopers said.

The scene was about 30 miles north of Greensboro.

The SUV's driver, Diadra Rachel Shaffer, was charged with driving while impaired, careless and reckless driving, misdemeanor child abuse and other charges, the State Highway Patrol said. Shaffer, 35, of Stokesdale, was driving with her month-old infant in the back seat, troopers said. Both seatbelts and child restraints were used by Shaffer and her baby, state patrol said.

Shaffer did not have a listed home telephone number and her family could not be reached for comment Sunday.

The road was closed for about six hours to clean up gasoline spilled from the Ford van driven by James Martin, 60 of Martinsville, Virginia, troopers said.

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