Harnett woman and her young daughter killed after head-on collision with big rig

May 21, 2019

A mother and her young twin daughter were killed and the twin’s sibling was hurt following a fiery crash in Harnett County early Tuesday morning that left , authorities said.

Venita Vandergriff, 46, was driving a Dodge Durango north on U.S. Highway 421 around 12:30 a.m. when the vehicle crossed the center line and crashed head-on with a southbound tractor-trailer, the State Highway Patrol said.

The crash happened between Mamers Road and Raven Rock Road.

Vandergriff’s 11-year-old daughters were in the vehicle. One twin, Zariyah, died at the scene, and the other, Amiyah, was transported to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center in serious condition.

Authorities said Vandergriff lived in Harnett County, near the crash site.

Authorities identified the driver of the tractor-trailer as Paul Lanex, 24, of Hickory. He suffered minor injuries during the crash.

The cause of the crash has not been determined, but alcohol or drugs aren’t suspected, the Highway Patrol said.

The sound of the impact startled residents in the area.

“It sounded to me like an explosion,” said John Siegrist, who lives in the neighborhood where the crash occurred.

Vandergriff worked at the Ready or Not Here I Grow child care center in Fuquay-Varina, and the director says Vandergriff’s twins attended the school through kindergarten.

“They were full of life and energy and constantly happy and smiling,” said Stephanie Kinley, director of the child care center. “They were both into sports and they loved their mamma so much.”

Investigators were still trying to determine what caused Vandergriff’s SUV to cross the center line.

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