Wreck cuts young love short
Just four months ago, Allen Paul Barnes got his first real look at Courtney Vanderheyden after they first met on a dating website. Two months later, on June 27, the two of them, both 19, tied the knot at Barnes' uncle's house in Lenoir. Early Tuesday, Courtney Barnes became a widow.
The newlyweds were traveling together just before 5:30 a.m. in Paul Barnes' 2003 Kia sedan, going north on Ellerwood Road in southeastern Lenoir, when the car crossed over the center line in a sharp curve and collided head-on with a 2004 GMC Envoy. Paul Barnes was killed.
Courtney Barnes was treated and released from Caldwell Memorial Hospital. The driver of the GMC, Tammy Church Houk, 39, also was taken to CMH, but no information about her condition was released Tuesday.
The Barneses had just left their house on nearby Freezer Locker Road. Paul planned to drop Courtney off at the home of his mother, Charlene Barnes, in Hudson and then go to his new job at Fairfield Chair Plant 1 in Lenoir, Charlene Barnes said.
"He had just began to work there in the assembly area," she said. "We're just in shock now."
She described her son as "a good Christian boy who attended Whitnel Pentacostal Holiness Church."
Dylan McCarty, 19, described Paul Barnes, whom he had known since the third grade, as "one of the best friends you could possibly know. He was a hard worker and a good hunter."
McCarty said he and Barnes often hunted deer, bear and raccoons together. They both graduated from West Caldwell High School in 2013.
"He was a warrior through and through," McCarty said.
Hours after the wreck, McCarty's girlfriend, Yahira Velasco, 19, stopped at the scene with her friend Paola Pereira, 20, to try to make sense of what happened. They studied the tire marks and the patch in the road marked by an orange spray-painted X left by investigators.
Lenoir Police Capt. Brent Phelps said that the speed the Kia was going, the wet pavement and the condition of the car's tires were all factors in the car crossing to the wrong side of the road.
Courtney Barnes didn't want to talk about the wreck Tuesday. She was thinking about the husband she barely had time to live with.
"He was a really amazing guy," she said.