A 10-year-old girl was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries following a three-car crash late Wednesday night near Benson.
According to the North Carolina Highway Patrol, Gracie Perez was taken to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at WakeMed and placed in a medically-induced coma after suffering multiple skull fractures and bleeding in the brain from the crash.
Gracie was unable to breathe on her own when first responders arrived on scene, according to the Highway Patrol.
A car driven by her mother Cynthia Hammons of Coats was traveling north on N.C. Highway 242 around 9:30 p.m. when it approached a stalled Buick SUV sitting partially on the shoulder of the highway. A third vehicle was approaching from the south when Hammons swerved to miss the SUV and struck a Ford 500 passenger car.
Hammons sustained serious, but non-life-threatening injuries and her 15-year-old son, Andrew Perez, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, sustained minor injuries after the airbag deployed. Andrew told troopers his sister, who was sitting in the left rear seat, was not properly wearing her seatbelt.
The driver of the SUV returned to the scene later, but fled when he noticed the collision, state troopers noted in the report.
No charges have been filed at this time in the crash. Police are still searching for the driver of the SUV. The wreck remains under investigation.