MORGANTON, N.C. - A 19-year-old mother is dead Wednesday after a single vehicle crash in Morganton that may have involved reckless driving and speeding, according to the North Carolina Highway Patrol.
Chelsea Buchanan, who is confirmed to have an 18-month-old child, was coming out of a Morganton cul-de-sac on N. Powerhouse Road in Burke County when she sped around the turn and hit a tree off the right side of the road.
The driver died at the scene according to troopers.
Officials have noted the speedometer of the vehicle was locked at 72 mph, the likely speed Buchanan was going at the time of the crash.
Neighbors say they believe the woman behind the wheel was driving recklessly before the crash, and indicated that there was additional damage at the end of the cul-de-sac.
Gina Detz lives near the location of Buchanan's crash, and she remembered hearing her car just moments before impact.
"It was really loud," Detz said. "Just going really fast, and it woke me up."
Buchanan's cousin, Christy Presnell, said she spoke on Facebook with the teenager about two-and-a-half hours before the crash.
"The last thing I said to her is, 'I love you, and if you ever need me, I'm here,'" Presnell recalled. "Then I wake up to see this on Facebook."
Presnell said her cousin had been struggling in the time leading up to her death.
"She was battling depression, and people don't know what it's like," Presnell said. "Don't down people. You try to help people; not keep cutting them down."
NCHP Trooper D.R. Lane confirmed to NBC Charlotte on Wednesday that speed was definitely a factor. A medical examiner will determine in the coming days if drugs or alcohol were in her system.
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