Rescue crews work as a team to secure the scene of the accident.


A van carrying 13 teens and driver, Yaakov Schwartz, 21, of Brooklin, N.Y., overturned on Thursday, Aug. 15, on River Road near Post Office Road, in Northampton County, leaving two in serious condition. 

According to N.C. Highway Patrol, Schwartz was cited for crossing left of the center line, and exceeding the safe speed for conditions. The accident happened while it was raining. 

Trooper Scott Richardson said that of the 14 people in the van, two were seriously injured.

Richardson also said that Schwartz admitted to oversteering the van, causing him to cross the center line and run into a ditch on the left side of the road, where the van flipped onto its side. 

The teens, visiting as part of a camp program, were heading towards NC 46 from Lake Gaston. 

Captain Michael Sonnenburg of Roanoke-Wildwood Volunteer Fire Department was first on the scene. He was traveling toward the accident on River Road when the call came in around 6:43 p.m. Sonnenburg radioed there were multiple victims injured on the scene.

Chief Lorenzo Wilkins of Roanoke Wildwood VFD was among the first responders. Wilkins established command, and his crew started extrication of one of the victims out of the van. 

Northampton County Emergency Medical Services was also at the scene providing first aid to victims outside of the van. 

“It was a total team effort,” Wilkins said. “I want to thank all the agencies that responded and the bystanders that assisted.”

According to Wilkins, the scene of the accident was chaotic when he arrived. “There were a lot of walking wounded victims, a number of victims were laying on the ground, and EMS was working on the more seriously injured,” he said. “I instructed my guys, with the assistance of Gaston Fire and Rescue, to start extrication.”

All of the injured victims were transported to Halifax Regional Medical Center of Roanoke Rapids or Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center of Emporia, Va. by Gaston Fire-Rescue-EMS, Northampton County EMS, Warren County Rescue Squad, Halifax County EMS, and Atlas Medical Transport. 

Also on scene was Northampton County Emergency Management, Northampton County Sheriff’s Department, and Warren County Sheriff’s Office. 

N.C. Highway Patrol led the accident investigation.