It could take a week for police to have all the answers regarding a weekend traffic accident that caused the death of a Pilot Mountain man trying to cross Rockford Street.
Jeffrey Edward Puckett, 39, has been identified as the victim of a collision in which both he and his son were struck by a vehicle near the Cook-Out fast-food restaurant around 12:35 a.m. Sunday.
The elder Puckett incurred “significant head injuries,” the Mount Airy Police Department reported Monday, and was transported to Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem.
Though he was in serious condition, an AirCare helicopter ambulance was not available early Sunday due to weather conditions, based on previous reports, and Puckett had to be taken to the hospital by Surry County Emergency Medical Service ground transport.
Puckett died at the hospital Sunday about 5:30 p.m. as a result of his injuries.
Meanwhile, his son, Jeffery O’Ryan Puckett, 19, also of Pilot Mountain, suffered a leg injury in the incident. And while initial reports indicated that he refused transportation by EMS personnel, police said Monday he was taken to Wake Forest Baptist Health by alternate means.
The younger Puckett is said to have been treated and released.
Byron Peter Kenneweg, 32, of Mount Airy, has been identified as the driver of the 2008 Hyundai Accent that struck the two pedestrians.
Dark Clothing A Factor
The father and son had been at Cook-Out at 1988 Rockford St. before the accident. It is one of the few eateries in the Mount Airy area still open after midnight and often is busy at that time.
“They had gone across to Mount Airy Yamaha and as they were crossing back to the Cook-Out that’s when the incident occurred,” Police Chief Dale Watson said Monday.
Watson also confirmed an earlier report that visibility might have been a contributing factor concerning the Pucketts’ attire. “That has been substantiated — they were wearing dark clothing,” he said.
No charges have been filed, with a reconstruction of the motor vehicle crash under way by Ryan Bennett, a senior patrol officer with the police department. Such reconstructions have occurred in the wake of other fatal accidents in Mount Airy and sometimes take several days to complete.
“In this particular case, I would say within the next week,” Watson said of the inquiry. It will allow police to have a complete picture of this weekend’s incident, he explained.
A preliminary investigation revealed that excessive speed was not involved, nor was alcohol use on the part of the driver or pedestrians.
Chief Watson added Monday that the latest fatality points to the need to exercise caution, particularly along the busy U.S. 601 corridor from U.S. 52 to Walmart.
A 2010 study by the N.C. Department of Transportation found that 25,000 vehicles per day pass through that section, which also tends to be busy at night due to the presence of after-hours businesses such as Cook-Out.
“We certainly have a lot of vehicles, and pedestrians, out at that time in the morning,” Watson said of the period during which the Pucketts were hit.
“For pedestrians and motorists alike, always be aware for the potential hazards out there and exercise diligence to make sure you arrive safely,” the police chief advised.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.