A West Virginia man, who was traveling to a hospital in San Antonio, Texas, for an artificial lung transplant, was killed in a two-vehicle crash on U.S 74 near Gastonia, North Carolina, reported the Gaston Gazette.
At approximately 11:45 p.m. Wednesday, June 1, 56-year-old John Michael “Mike” Newman of Beckley was riding in the back right seat of a Ford Explorer, driven by Ashley Wingrove, 27, who police officials say was a relative. A highway patrol trooper L.T. Randall stated that the driver of the vehicle told him that the “traffic was so heavy she couldn’t move over and had to stop.”
Man traveling for lung transplant killed in Gaston County wreck: https://t.co/JC2NyY0tlB
— GastonGazette (@gastongazette) June 2, 2016
However, when the driver attempted to “merge onto Interstate 85 North from the U.S. 74 East on-ramp,” the SUV was rear-ended by a Chevrolet pickup truck, carrying three passengers – Charity Causby, 30, of Shelby, and Jeffrey Shane Vassey, 29, of Mooresboro – that was traveling at 65 mph while pulling a bass boat behind it.
According to the Register Herald, when emergency crews arrived at the scene, Newman was pronounced dead while passengers in both vehicles were transported to CaroMont Regional Medical Center for non-life threatening injuries.
Randall stated that the road was under construction when the accident occurred and that may have contributed to the car crash, but it was not the cause of the wreck.
However, after learning that Newman was killed in a car crash before being able to receive an artificial lung transplant to “regain his quality of life,” his niece Summer Thornton was devastated.
She was hoping that the artificial lung transplant would change Newman’s life as he has had a rough year, facing life-threatening health issues. Thornton stated that “I’d have really loved for him to get that artificial lung, for him to have fun again. He’s not going to get that chance and that really upsets me.”
“He waited a really long time to get the lung transplant. And when he went to go get it, they told him his other lung was going bad.”
Before the fatal car crash, Newman’s relative was driving him to a Motel 6 in Shelby, where he was meeting his girlfriend, whose name has not been released. She stated that the plan was for her to drive Newman the rest of the way to the hospital in Texas the following day to undergo surgery for a lung transplant.
Newman’s girlfriend added that it had been extremely difficult to watch him suffer the way that he did for the past 18 months. “Every two steps he’d take he’d be gasping for air,” she said. Although his car crash death came as a shock to Newman’s relatives and significant other, Thornton told reporters that “at least those hard parts are over and I’m really happy he’s not suffering anymore.”
— ♥️North Carolina♥️ (@_North_Carolina) June 6, 2016
Relatives say that Newman traveled to many places during his lifetime, and he would be missed and remembered for the “stories he told about his adventures.”
However, Newman’s car crash death came less than a week after 78-year-old Ray Ferguson of Jackson County was killed in a crash on U.S 74 Wednesday, May 25, where a child and a 29-year-old woman were transported to Haywood Regional Medical Center after sustaining minor injuries in the crash.
Although an investigation was conducted following the accident, it was not immediately made clear what caused the fatal wreck, but police officials had to close the road for several hours, redirecting traffic.
Police officials say an investigation is underway to uncover who was driving the pickup truck that rear-ended a Ford Explorer, causing it to crash, killing John Michael Newman, who was reportedly on his way to receive an artificial lung transplant.
Charges against the driver of the pickup truck are pending.
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