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October 01, 2023

Wreck claims life of orchardist, injures three people

Bobby Lowe

A nighttime crash in the fog has claimed the life of a long-time Alexander County orchardist and caused injuries to three other people over the weekend.

On Saturday, January 2, 2021, at approximately 7:15 p.m., the NC State Highway Patrol responded to a fatal collision in Alexander County on NC 16 near the Wilkes County line, according to Master Trooper Jeffrey Swagger of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.

A 1994 Cadillac Deville was traveling south on NC 16, crossed the centerline, and collided head-on with a northbound 2010 Hyundai passenger car.  The driver of the Cadillac, Bobby Harris Lowe, 76, of Taylorsville, succumbed to his injuries at the scene. He was restrained by a seatbelt and the initial investigation does not indicate impairment as a contributing factor, the trooper said.

The Hyundai was driven by Thomas Eller, 48, of Wilkesboro.

As a result of the initial collision, the Hyundai collided with a guardrail and came to rest partially in the roadway. A passenger, Chasity Wyatt, 35, of Moravian Falls, got out of the car and was attempting to assist an 8-year-old female passenger in the back seat when a northbound Ford pickup truck collided with the Hyundai. Wyatt was struck by the vehicle and propelled over the guardrail.

The driver of the Ford, David Privette of Purlear, was unable to see the crashed vehicles due to their damage, the dark roadway, and foggy conditions.

Eller, Wyatt, and the child were transported by EMS to Wilkes Medical Center with serious injuries. Mr. Privette received minor injuries and was not taken to the hospital.

NC 16 was closed for approximately four hours during the investigation, said Swagger.

(Readers may recall that Bobby Lowe was a co-owner of Sugar Loaf Orchards. Bobby and his brother, Linney “Bryant” Lowe, Jr., formed Sugar Loaf Orchards, a partnership, in 1968, and had operated it since. They leased the Sugar Loaf Apple House starting in 1971, and bought it in 1975. It was formerly JANFU Orchard.) Younger family members, including Bobby’s sons Bobby “Ryan” and Robert, have helped run the business in recent years. The orchard was named a North Carolina Century Farm in September 2016.)

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