Missing N.C. Couple Were Driving at 103 Mph at Time of Fatal Crash: Police
The missing North Carolina couple found dead in their car off the side of a road were speeding and intoxicated before they crashed, police say.
On May 4, a grey 2013 Dodge Dart belonging to Stephanie Mayorga, 27, and Paige Escalera, 25, was found "deep in the woods off the intersection of Independence Blvd. and River Road," according to a statement released by the Wilmington Police Department. Inside the vehicle were the couple's decomposing bodies.
Mayorga and Escalera were reported missing by their roommate on April 19 when she hadn't seen them for three days.
Police later announced at a press conference that "alcohol and speed were major factors in the wreck."
A 911 call was made on April 15 -- the night of the crash -- that reported a car "traveling at a high rate of speed, running through a stop sign, and crashing" near an intersection 6.5 miles from the couple's apartment.
That night, nine emergency responders, along with the 911 caller, were at the scene searching the area for the car. However, they found no evidence of a wreck at that time.
During the police's search for the missing women, officials returned to the previously searched site. This time, investigators discovered the couple's Dodge Dart partially submerged in a swamp behind thick vegetation off the side of the road.
Several open and empty beer bottles were discovered in the couple's car, which Mayorga had been driving at the time of the accident. According to investigators, the couple were seen buying beer from a convenience store one hour before the crash.
The car was going 103 miles per hour when it hit the curb and went airborne.
"This crash happened in the blink of an eye. From the time the vehicle hit the curb to the time of the collision, only 0.99 seconds elapsed," the police news release states.
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"Data from the car’s computer shows the driver hit the brake at the same moment the vehicle struck the curb, which explains the lack of skid marks," the news release states. "The car battery broke in half on impact, shutting off any lights or sounds that could have alerted first responders to the crash. In addition, thick vegetation at the back of the car fully covered the taillights and prevented any reflection under a searchlight."
On the day the vehicle was found, only a small section of the roof was visible from the swamp.
The couple's cause of death has been ruled the result of traumatic head and chest injuries sustained in the wreck.