NC landmark destroyed in crash, fire

Published 10:33 pm Monday, April 13, 2009

In a freak accident near noon on Saturday, the N.C. ABC liquor store in Corapeake was turned into a blazing inferno that destroyed the building, threatening the lives of three adults and three children.

For years, Suffolk residents heading for the Outer Banks or Elizabeth City, N.C., gave directions to friends heading south on Route 32 that included the instruction, “Turn left at the liquor store in Corapeake.” Following those directions, the driver would turn left onto Folly Road, which begins at Route 32 in the middle of a blind curve.

Late Saturday morning, a woman heading north on Route 32 entered the curve at what may have been a high rate of speed and lost control of her car. Along with three children who were passengers, the vehicle plunged into a ditch, continued up the side of the ditch, speeding past a fire hydrant, crushed a chain link fence, proceeded across a parking lot and slammed into the south wall of the ABC store.

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Inside were two employees, working near the front counter, waiting on customers. The vehicle with its four occupants burst through the wall and hurtled across the store, where it slammed into the north wall, knocking down the cinderblock structure. It passed a few feet behind the workers.

The car and the store were engulfed in flames, fed by the smashed bottles of alcoholic beverages and the fuel in the vehicle. According to Billy Winn, Emergency Management-Fire Marshall for Gates County, N.C., all six of the people involved survived with only a few minor injuries. Several were transported to area hospitals but later were released.

Late in the day, ABC officials were supervising the destruction of all remaining stock.