Roy Lee Harris Killed in Car Crash
The Forest City Courier
Three killed in two auto wrecks here
FOREST CITY — Two Rutherfordton women and a Cliffside professional photographer died in two car accidents Thursday.
Photographer Roy Lee Harris, 48, of Cliffside died Thursday night after another car swerved into his lane on 221-A. Harris’s wife, Charlotte, a passenger in his car, was in stable condition this morning at Cleveland Memorial Hospital.
Thursday afternoon Virginia Lee Ford, 24, and her mother, Reba Arrowood Haughn, 46, both of 104 Branch Street in Rutherfordton, died after another car pulled out in front of them as they were driving on Withrow Road in Forest City.
Harris was killed in a head-on collision at around 10:40 p.m. yesterday. He and his wife were driving on 221-A in Cliffside below Cone Mills when a car coming in the opposite direction, driven by Dallas Craig Miller, 22, swerved in front of them.
Miller was treated and released from Rutherford Hospital during the night.
The Sheriff’s office gave an unconfirmed report that Miller was charged with several traffic violations.
Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Haughn died shortly after 2:30 p.m. Thursday when their 1963 Ford collided with another on Withrow Road near the Highway Patrol office.
Charles Alan Lewis, l9, of Route 2, Rutherfordton, had been traveling south on Duke Street (RR 2184) in his 1972 Mercury. He apparently didn’t stop for the stop sign at Withrow Road and pulled out in front of the car driven by Mrs. Ford.
Lewis was in satisfactory condition this morning at Rutherford Hospital. Both cars were totaled, according to investigating patrolman Jack Edwards. Edwards said he was still investigating the afternoon accident and didn’t know whether charges would be brought against Lewis.
Patrolman Thomas “Junior” Johnson investigated the Thursday night accident in Cliffside involving Harris.
The Shelby Star
Cliffside Woman Bitter About Wreck
Cliffside — Charlotte Harris is bitter.
“I’d be lying to you if I told you I’m not,” she says.
But the bitterness is understandable.
A May 21 wreck caused by a driver who had been drinking left the 44-year old Cliffside woman in poor physical condition, she says.
She suffered broken ribs and damage to her pancreas severe enough to make her a diabetic for the rest of her life. Glass from the collision penetrated her eyes, leaving her with poor sight. She still has to have help getting around.
But Mrs. Harris lost more than her health in that wreck. Her husband, photographer Roy Lee Harris was killed.
Last month, the driver of the car that struck the couple’s car was found guilty of death by a vehicle and reckless driving after consuming alcohol, according to Rutherford County District Court records. He had been charged with death by a vehicle and driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor.
According to Rutherford County District Court records, Dallas Craig Miller, 22, of Henrietta was sentenced to not less than 18 months nor more than 18 months, suspended for two years, put on probation for two years, fined $600, ordered to pay court costs, to attend “D.U.I.” school and pay the $100 school fee and to surrender his license. The court records show he is to “participate in and complete any program for his problem with alcohol that his probation officer recommends.”
Documents furnished by the N. C. Division of Motor Vehicles show that Miller’s driver’s license had been suspended twice prior to the May 21 wreck for an accumulation of points and revoked once for driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor. He had been convicted twice of driving on the wrong side of the road, one time for reckless driving, one time for hit and run property damage, one time for having no liability insurance and one stop sign violation.
Mrs. Harris remembers distinctly the day of the wreck.
She and her husband had taken pictures all day. They decided after work to go eat at a favorite fish camp.
On the way back home, Mrs. Harris says, Roy spotted a car traveling toward him. “All Roy said was ‘Boy, get on your side,'” she says.
Roy pulled onto the side of the roadway, Mrs. Harris says and came to a stop. “Our car was not moving,” she says.
But the oncoming car crashed into the driver’s side of their car, says Mrs. Harris.
“All at once, the next thing I knew Roy’s hand was hitting my face,” Mrs. Harris says. “He took his hand and covered my face.”
Mrs. Harris says that she was told that Roy had saved her life, that had he not thrown his hand in front of her, her neck would have been broken.
“His last thoughts were with me,” she says. “I believe that with all my heart.”
There wasn’t much that could be done for Roy after the impact. “He was just gurgling,” Mrs. Harris says. “The steering wheel went through him.”
Mrs. Harris was taken to Cleveland Memorial Hospital where she was hospitalized for seven days, missing her husband’s funeral. “I cried so much they let me out in seven days,” she says.
Mrs. Harris doesn’t know if she’ll ever be able to work again. She says she’d like to do lab work for professional photographers.
Roy had left a letter and a tape recording to Mrs. Harris.
He was a deacon at Missionary Methodist Church. Mrs. Harris says she believes Roy knew his days were numbered the week he was killed.
He told a friend when leaving the church, Mrs. Harris says, “If I don’t see you anymore, I’ll meet you in heaven.”
“It was just like he knew something was going to happen,’ Mrs. Harris says. “It was like God warned him of it.”
Roy Lee’s Obituary
Roy Lee Harris
1932 – 1981
Roy Lee Harris, 48, husband of Charlotte Stidmon Harris of Cliffside, died at 10.30 p.m. Thursday of injuries received in an automobile accident.
Harris had been a photographer in Rutherford County for some 30 years; was owner of Harris Photography Studio in Cliffside; the son of the late E. C. Harris; member of the Fairview Missionary Church; and Veteran of the Korean War.
Also surviving are two sons, Bruce L. Harris and James L. Harris, both of Cliffside; two daughters, Sherry Trammell of Shelby and Peggy Harris of the home; one brother, Clifford Harris of Route 5, Forest City; two sisters, Mrs. Kathleen Foster of Kannapolis and Mrs. Ethel Greene of Shelby; two grandchildren.
Services will be conducted at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Cliffside Baptist Church with Rev. William Stroud and Rev. T. W. Lovelace officiating. Burial will follow in the Bethel Baptist Church cemetery. The family will receive friends from 7 to 9 p.m. at the McKinney-Landreth Funeral Home.