Driver dies marking 4th death, including 2 children, in wake of head-on NC 109 crash in Davidson County

20 January 2023

DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — A fourth person has died nearly two weeks after a wreck on N.C. 109 in Davidson County, according to North Carolina State Highway Patrol.

On Jan. 6, a crash left 38-year-old Brittany Virginia Carter, of Lexington, and her two sons, 12-year-old Ayden and 7-year-old Lincoln Palmer, dead.

Highway Patrol has now revealed that 62-year-old Robyn L Degennaro, of Winston-Salem, died on Thursday. Troopers say Degennaro was believed to be at fault in the crash, and no charges will be filed.

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The crash

On the day of the crash, Degennaro was driving a Toyota 4 Runner SUV south on N.C. 109 while Carter was driving north in a Chrysler passenger vehicle with her two sons. There was also a Chevrolet SUV traveling north.

Investigators say that the Toyota traveled left of center and collided head-on with the Chrysler and then struck the Chevrolet, about 1.5 miles south of Cid Road. After impact, the Toyota traveled off the road on the westbound shoulder.

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2 minors among 3 killed in wreck on NC 109 in Davidson County2 minors among 3 killed in wreck on NC 109 in Davidson County2 minors among 3 killed in wreck on NC 109 in Davidson County2 minors among 3 killed in wreck on NC 109 in Davidson County2 minors among 3 killed in wreck on NC 109 in Davidson County

The Chrysler traveled off the road on the right, overturned and caught fire. The Chevrolet also traveled off the road on the right and came to rest on the eastbound shoulder.

Degennaro was taken to a hospital by Air Care with serious injuries before dying about two weeks later. Carter and both of her sons died at the scene.

The driver and passenger of the Chevrolet were transported to Thomasville Hospital by EMS with non-life-threatening injuries.

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Community mourns

Dr. Emily Lipe, the superintendent of Davidson County Schools, has confirmed that two of the fatalities were DCS students.

“It is with heavy hearts that we learned of the loss of two of our students, a first grader from Silver Valley Elementary and a seventh grader from South Davidson, who were involved in a tragic car accident on Hwy 109 last night. Our heartfelt sympathy and prayers go out to the families and friends impacted by this tragedy. Additional personnel will be on site at both schools on Monday to provide emotional support.”

Dr. Emily Lipe 

Dennis Palmer, the father of Ayden and Lincoln, released this statement on behalf of their family:

Brittany and the boys were my entire world. I’m a broken man today knowing that I’ve lost their joy and laughter forever. The only thing holding me together right now is the support from my family, friends, coworkers and community. I am so incredibly overwhelmed by your prayers, cards, kindness, and most generous offers of support. Without them, the grief would be unbearable. My family and I love the community and feel your arms wrapped around us.

Lincoln was my little man who was larger than life in his seven years. He never met a stranger, and would often be seen high fiving everyone and anyone that he walked past. I’m going to miss him teasing me and comparing me to all of his favorites – from Godzilla, Superman and most recently Gordon Ramsey. He most enjoyed learning and growing his skills in his first grade classes, martial arts, baseball, football and basketball. He wanted it all. Lincoln had the biggest heart and he shined bright when around his special friends. My favorite time was when he would curl up on my lap and we would laugh together.

Ayden taught me so much in his twelve years. He was a beautiful soul and quiet leader. He had a quick wit, masterfully using comedy to either diffuse the situation or stoke the fire. He loved the camaraderie and fellowship of the sports teams he joined, including baseball, football, and basketball. He was learning the skills, and would do anything it took to grow. He knew he was part of something bigger than himself. His journey in Tae Kwan Do helped to shape him as he gained his confidence and was inspired to teach. The world was a better place with him in it.
Brittany was most definitely my better half and is the reason I became the man I am. Our lives revolved around our sons. Everything we did is because she made it happen. She took great pride in providing Ayden and Lincoln a life full of opportunities, from learning and adventures. She never missed their events and loved to be part of the community. Her friendship circle grew at every turn. Her friends describe her as a gypsy soul. She was on a quest during her 38 years to share her passion from art, cosmetology, graphic design, and so much more. She lived life on her terms and had a special enthusiasm for life.

My world will not ever be the same without Brittany, Ayden and Lincoln. And I know that is also true for our families and friends too. From our parents Dawn, Tommy, Mike and Eva to our siblings Wes and Ashley, Ashlyn and Thomas, and Tammy – you loved our family deeply, inspired, guarded, carried and gave us space. You made our family bond so strong.

This week, our family will celebrate how they lived instead of mourning how they died. I ask the media to please respect our privacy while we say goodbye. In time I will turn my focus to advocate for the critical need for safety on our roads. I want change to happen so it prevents another family from experiencing the same bottomless grief that we do.

Dennis Palmer

Cupcake Cuties has been selling dozens of cupcakes to raise money to support the family. Co-owner Christy Davis told FOX8 that they have orders for more than 120 dozen blue-iced cupcakes. Some people have even donated cash as well.

Multiple area schools told students to wear blue that week in support of the family.

There is a GoFundMe to help Dennis Palmer cover unexpected expenses while he grieves. The remaining funds will be used to keep the family’s memories alive through scholarships and more, according to the fundraiser.

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Concerns about N.C. 109

The crash renewed the call from the community for added safety measures along the road.

“All it takes is one senseless person to ruin a family and ruin a community, and that’s exactly what happened,” said Amanda King, who lives close to N.C. 109.

The memorial honoring the victims of the crash joins nine others marking lives lost in fatal crashes on the stretch of road.

“I think about every time I get on this road, something happening to me or my son, and it’s a fear for everybody,” King said. “People just think it’s just a drag strip, and they can go as fast as they want.”

Beyond speed, neighbors say drivers aren’t paying attention, swerving around turning cars and drifting over the center line.

In 2021, almost a quarter of the crashes on this stretch of highway were head-on collisions. A majority of the Fair Grove Fire Department’s traffic calls last year were for incidents on N.C. 109.

“With 109, people think it’s a two-way straight road. You’re less likely to swerve, but when it comes to that, you are more likely to swerve. The rumble strips help with that part,” said Captain Taylor Lambeth with the FGFD.

Last summer, the North Carolina Department of Transportation installed rumble strips on the outside lines and center lines to keep people from drifting.

They’ve also added a stoplight near the intersection of Clarksbury Church Road, but people live nearby want to see more manpower.

According to a spokesperson from the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, the stretch is an area of concern for troopers.

On top of regular patrols, their Crash Reduction Enforcement Team doubles down on the section of road at least twice a month.

The NCDOT said the regional office has requested a collision study on the area. There are also plans to add lanes to the road.

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