LUMBERTON — Former County Commissioner Tommy Wellington, his wife and son are among four people killed by impaired drivers in two separate wrecks.
Wellington, 84; his wife, Joyce Wellington, 69; and his son, James Douglas Wellington, 55, were killed after their vehicle was struck by a truck being driven by an impaired driver on N.C. 211 near Poole Road in Raeford at about 11:51 a.m. on Monday, according to Trooper Joseph Nelson of the state Highway Patrol.
Joyce Wellington’s sister, Gail Prescott, 55, was also in the car and is being treated at Moore Regional Hospital, where she is in stable condition.
According to Trooper John Burgin, public information officer for Troop H of the Highway Patrol, Matthew Allen English crossed the center-line of N.C. 211, striking the Wellington’s vehicle head-on.
English, 31, has been charged with driving left of center, careless and reckless driving and driving under the influence. He is expected to face additional charges in the three deaths, Nelson said. Nelson said English was likely impaired by drugs, not alcohol, but that the Highway Patrol is still awaiting test results.
According to Burgin, English was able to escape his truck after it caught fire and was no injured.
Wellington’s oldest son from a previous marriage, Johnny, also died in a car accident. Wellington has two surviving children, Georgia and Ginny.
As a county commissioner, Wellington represented District 6, which includes the Saddletree community, from 2005 to 2010, when he lost his bid for re-election to David Edge. Wellington was appointed to the District 6 seat in 2005 to complete the unexpired term of the late Gary Powers, who had been a longtime friend of Wellington’s. Wellington followed in the footsteps of his father, Doug Wellington, who also served as a county commissioner.
He also served on the Robeson Community College board of trustees. His 24-year run on the board began with his appointment by the governor in July 1990 and ended with his Nov. 16, 2014, resignation.
“My health prevents me from being the productive and enthusiastic member that I once was,” Wellington wrote in his resignation letter. “I trust that I always served as a good ambassador as I represented the college at home, at the state level, and the national level. Over the years, I have invested a great deal of time and energy in behalf of the institution that I love so dearly.”
Ricky Harris, the county’s manager, told The Robesonian that he had been notified of Wellington’s death by Sheriff Kenneth Sealey at about 5 p.m. on Monday.
“I really enjoyed working with Tommy on the board,” Harris said. “He was a good friend. He really was concerned about the community.”
The commissioners acknowledged Wellington’s death with a moment of silence at the beginning of their meeting Monday night.
“He was a jewel,” said Commissioner Noah Woods, the board’s chairman. “He was a very personable person. If he could help someone, he would.”
Raymond Cummings called Wellington a “dedicated commissioner.”
“I enjoyed working with him. He was concerned about Robeson County, especially his district,” Cummings said. “He was a man of honor and integrity. He will be sorely missed by all the citizens of Robeson County.
Commissioner Tom Taylor praised Wellington as a “good community man.”
“I always enjoyed being around him,” said Taylor. “He was a good Christian man. He is a real loss to the county.”
In a separate accident, a 74-year-old Pembroke man was struck and killed by a motorist while walking on Evergreen Church Road on Saturday.
According to the Highway Patrol, Billy Ray Oxendine had walked onto the road and into the path of Finie Bullard’s 2007 Kia at about 10:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Bullard, 38, fled the scene, the Highway Patrol said, but turned himself into authorities at about 1 a.m. on Sunday.
Oxendine lived on the same road where the accident occurred.
Bullard was charged with driving while impaired and driving with a revoked license. More charges may be added, the Highway Patrol said.
Bullard turned himself in to the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office at 1 a.m. on Sunday, according to the Highway Patrol, but was not jailed. His photograph and bond were not available.