Union County egg supplier dies in wreck

Jan. 31, 2013 @ 06:06 PM

Richard Simpson, who owns Simpson's Eggs in Monroe, died in a two-vehicle wreck Thursday afternoon at the intersection of N.C. Highway 200 and N.C. Highway 218, the second fatality at the intersection in less than a month.

Simpson, 62, of 4819 New Hope Church Road in Unionville, was driving a white Ford extended cab pick-up and was traveling west on Highway 218 at the time of the wreck.

According to troopers from the North Carolina Highway Patrol, Simpson failed to stop for the stoplight at the intersection and as a result, collided with a gold GMC pickup driven by James Zimmerle, 58, of 9397 Oak Grove Road, Stanfield, who was traveling south on Highway 200.

Simpson was not wearing a seat belt. Zimmerle was wearing a seatbelt and was taken to Northeast Medical in Concord afterwards with non-life threatening injuries, according to members of the North Carolina Highway Patrol.

Larry Mitchell Smith, 73, of Stanfield, died after a wreck at the same place on Jan. 9 that involved a California Cartage Express 2001 freightliner tractor-trailer and the 2001 Ford pickup owned by Holbrook Plumbing he was driving.

"That's the only two we've had and they're at the same place," First Sgt. M.R. Leach of the North Carolina Highway Patrol said in reference to fatalities in Union County this year.

Both fatalities happened at the Highway 200 and Highway 218 intersection.

Following Thursday's wreck, it was discovered that Simpson was talking to his son-in-law on a cell phone when approaching the intersection and saw his son in another vehicle across from him. It is believed that distracted driving was a factor in the wreck, Leach said.

"It's two heavily traveled roads that come together there. There's a stoplight but Highway 218 carries a lot of traffic," Joel Baucom, who owns land along Highway 218 near the intersection with Highway 200, said.

Highway 200 also has a lot of traffic and he's seen many wrecks at the intersection. He's seen three serious ones in the last few weeks. Two of which were the fatal ones involving Simpson and Smith, Baucom said.

In the past there was a stop sign at the intersection but that has since been replaced by the traffic lights there now. He would like to see something done to address the problems with collisions at  the intersection, he said.

"All my life, Highway 218 had a stop sign, Highway 200 had the right-of-way until they put the traffic light in and they reversed it, now Highway 218 is the major road, (Highway) 200 is the secondary," he said.

Though wrecks are not uncommon, he would like to see something done to help make the intersection safer, he said.

He had known Simpson a long time and lived not far from him. He remembers stopping by Simpson's Eggs earlier this week to speak with him as well as chatting with him the week before at the diner near the Highway 218 and Highway 200 intersection. Simpson was a very good friend who will be missed, Baucom said.

"He was just one of the nicest all around people you'll ever see," he said.

He lived less than a mile from me and I knew Simpson's dad and mother all his life as well as other members of Simpson's family, he said.

Simpson's Eggs is a family owned business, which Richard Simpson as well as other members of his family helped to run. He has worked with the business around 18 years and interacted with Richard Simpson regularly, Derwin Starnes, plant manager at the family's business, said.

"He (Richard Simpson) was a generous person to the community and his employees," Starnes said.

Simpson was always very caring and friendly and interested in the lives of his employees and others he knew. Many who work at Simpson's Eggs have worked there for years. 

The company distributes eggs both nationally and internationally and supplies eggs to Food Lion and Sam's Club stores. In the past, Simpson and his family got the chance to visit the White House and meet George W. Bush during his presidency. The family's business focuses on distributing eggs throughout the Carolinas but has many other national and international locations they are distributed to as well, Starnes, said.