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3 teens injured after possible drunk driving

November 5, 2010

Three teens were injured Wednesday in a single-car crash allegedly caused by a drunk driver.
The accident happened about 11 p.m. on Mt. Olive Church Road near the intersection of Ruth Avenue in Newton.
According to the police report, the driver of the vehicle, Melinda Cobie Carpenter, of Conover, admitted she drank six shots of liquor before getting behind the wheel. Carpenter turned 19 on Tuesday.
Carpenter was driving southeast on Mt. Olive Church Road toward Ruby Spencer Street in a 1995 Cadillac when the vehicle ran off the right side of the road. The vehicle struck a ditch and rolled side-over-side six times before coming to rest in a field 300 feet away from the road, according to the police report.
Newton Police Chief Don Brown said the speed limit on Mt. Olive Church Road is 35 mph, and Carpenter exceeded the speed limit by at least 10 mph at the time of the crash.
It is unknown what caused Carpenter to run off the road.
"Without having someone tell us exactly what happened, we have no way of knowing," Brown said.
Two passengers, Zachary Ray Shew, 17, of Conover, and Travis Green Ostrander, 18, of Conover, were in the vehicle at the time of the crash.
Carpenter and Shew were wearing seat belts, but Ostrander was not buckled in Brown said. No one, however, was ejected during the crash.
A second vehicle stopped at the scene after seeing the crash, and the witness reported seeing two occupants inside the vehicle and another person sitting up outside the vehicle. No one was in the driver's seat.
Carpenter told police she was driving the car at the time of the crash, and Shew and Ostrander confirmed that Carpenter was driving.
According to the police report, all passengers had visible injuries and were transported to Catawba Valley Medical Center.
Upon arrival at the hospital, Carpenter submitted to a blood-alcohol test after officers noticed a "strong smell of alcohol coming from the driver's breath," according to the police report. Carpenter then admitted to taking six shots of liquor, but according to police, she then changed her story and denied driving the vehicle.
The vehicle Carpenter was driving sustained $5,000 in damage and wasn't drivable after the crash. It is registered to Henry Duane Carpenter, of Conover. No other vehicles were involved.
Charges are pending in the investigation. Brown said Carpenter, because she isn't old enough to consume alcohol legally, could face charges of driving as a provisional licensee. If a blood-alcohol test reveals Carpenter's blood-alcohol level was higher than the legal limit, she also faces charges of driving while impaired.

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