Man dies in Rock Ridge head-on crash

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A Wilson County man died Friday night after his minivan veered into the oncoming lane of N.C. 42 and collided head-on with an SUV.

Jose Luis Ayungua, 46, of Donna Court north of Kenly, was driving a 2001 Chrysler van that struck a 2005 Chevrolet Tahoe driven by 25-year-old Shanquita Lavender of Kenly, according to Trooper D.C. Harrell of the North Carolina Highway Patrol.

Harrell said Ayungua was traveling west on N.C. 42 and a motorist who was behind him and witnessed the crash told state troopers that he was "basically completely in the other lane."

The crash happened around 9:30 p.m. Friday one-tenth of a mile east of Papa Jack's, a convenience store in the Rock Ridge community near Buckhorn Lake.

Wilson County EMS paramedics tried to revive Ayungua, but he was pronounced dead at the scene. Troopers said there were no passengers in his vehicle.

Lavender and her husband, front-seat passenger Sean Lavender, were taken to WakeMed Health in Raleigh. Harrell said both patients are expected to recover from their injuries.

Ayungua and Shanquita Lavender were both driving at or near the posted speed limit of 55 mph and speed is not believed to be a factor in the crash. Harrell said the results of Ayungua's autopsy could shed light on what caused him to swerve into the eastbound lane.

"With any fatality we have, we do an autopsy," he said.

Firefighters from the Rock Ridge Volunteer Fire Department and Wilson County Rescue Squad also responded to the wreck and Wilson County sheriff's deputies assisted with traffic control.

The stretch of N.C. 42 where the crash occurred was closed for roughly two hours while first responders investigated and cleared the vehicles from the road.