Jeep flipped multiple times in OBX crash; teen seriously injured

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Jan. 26, 2021 crash scene. Image provided by Kill Devil Hills Police

KILL DEVIL HILLS, N.C. (WAVY) – A 16-year-old girl has life-threatening injuries after a crash in Kill Devil Hills, and charges are pending against the other vehicle’s driver.

Police responded to the crash on US 158 at East Palmetto Street around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Through evidence and driver statements, investigators said they determined the driver of a Volvo SUV turned onto US 158 without coming to a stop at the stop sign at Palmetto Street. It crashed into an oncoming Jeep Wrangler, causing the Jeep to flip at least six times, police said.

The SUV driver, identified by police as 23-year-old Merlin Cole, and his passenger were not hurt.

A 17-year-old was driving the Jeep and had two passengers. The backseat passenger, a 16-year-old girl, was thrown from the vehicle after the impact and was seriously hurt.

The driver and the front seat passenger were wearing seatbelts and suffered minor injuries.

Officers administered an alcohol screening device on Cole and reportedly received a positive reading. He was transported to the hospital to have blood drawn.

Criminal charges are pending.

Jan. 26, 2021 crash scene. Image provided by Kill Devil Hills Police


A GoFundMe identified the teen injured in the crash as 16-year-old Tatum Love, a First Flight High School student. Less than 24 hours after the crash, the page had raised $32,000.

As of February 8, the GoFundMe has over $98,000 of the $100,000 initial goal.

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