A 24-year-old man with local ties is being laid to rest Tuesday following a harrowing fatal collision last week in Craven County, in which the work vehicle he was driving was sandwiched between two tractor-trailers.
Jacob DeJesus Mojarro, 24, who is listed as being of Havelock but whose family lives mostly in southern Sampson, was killed in the five-vehicle pileup on U.S. 17, which occurred half a mile north of N.C. 43 just minutes before 10 a.m. Wednesday. He and his supervisor, Phillip Cordova, 55, of New Bern, were traveling in a Terminix vehicle when they were rear-ended after a tractor-trailer rammed another vehicle and set off a series of collisions.
The tractor-trailer driver, Brian Lamar Harrell, 28, of Elizabeth City, has since received charges of misdemeanor death by vehicle and failure to reduce speed. Those charges came after consultation with Craven District Attorney Scott Thomas.
According to Highway Patrol reports, the tractor-trailer being driven by Harrell was traveling north on U.S. 17 when he failed to reduce speed and struck a 2015 Kia being driven by Pamela Pair, 58, of Newport, in the rear. The impact pushed the Kia forward into the back of the 2014 Chevrolet passenger car being driven by Mojarro, which was then pushed into a 2012 GMC SUV being driven by William Summa, 61, of New Bern.
The Terminix vehicle was pushed left of center and entered the path of a fifth vehicle, another tractor-trailer being driven by Shawn Marshal, 58, of Chesapeake, Va., that was traveling south on U.S. 17.
After the impact with that tractor-trailer, the Terminix vehicle was pushed into the left side of the first tractor-trailer.
Cordova, 55, was flown to Vidant of Greenville with life-threatening injuries. His condition was not immediately known. Pair was transported to Carolina East in New Bern with non-life threatening injuries. Harrell, Summa and Marshal were not injured in the collision.
Everyone was wearing their seatbelts and there was no evidence of alcohol or drug use by any of the drivers.
A funeral for Mojarro is being held at 1 p.m. today (Tuesday) at the Spirit of Life Church in Clinton with the Rev. Ron Davis and Pastor Darian Parker officiating. Interment with military honors will follow in the Colly Chapel Church Cemetery, Harrells.
Born in Bladen County in 1991 to Raul Aguilar and Anita Jernigan Aguilar, Mojarro was employed as a sales representative for Terminix and was a veteran of the U.S. Marines.
In addition to his parents, he is survived by his wife Lori Corine Marinelli-Mojarro and daughter, Juanita Newman.
According to family, Mojarro had just gotten out of the Marines and was stationed at Cherry Point. He had an apartment at Havelock and had just started with Terminix. His wife Lori works with the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office.
“He had gone to work at Terminix and he and his supervisor were on their way out on Highway 17 when an 18-wheeler hit another vehicle behind (them),” said Peggy Davis, who said the impact on the Terminix vehicle caused it to go into oncoming traffic. “They went into the path of another 18-wheeler, which went over top of that little car. He was killed instantly.”
Davis said that one of the men driving in front of Mojarro said he was pulling into his driveway, so the traffic was slowing behind him. However, he could see in his rearview mirror that the tractor-trailer was bearing down quickly.
“He said there have been so many wrecks there that people avoid that highway,” Davis said. “They said that road is so dangerous.”
The investigation is ongoing and additional charges will be considered at the conclusion of the investigation, which Highway Patrol officials expected to take between a week or two.
Davis, listed as Mojarro’s grandmother, said although he was technically not kin, he was adopted all the same. Her sons Ron and Anthony also considered Jacob their little brother.
In addition to Ron and Anthony Davis, his obituary listed numerous brothers and sisters, including Marcus Tyndall, Clifton Tyndall, Gabriela Mojarro, Tina Mitchell, Tania Aguilar and Gabriela Aguilar, as well as grandparents Ronald and Peggy Davis; mother-in-law Gwen Morrison and father-in-law William Marinelli.
“I raised him from when he was little,” said Peggy Davis. “He wasn’t my flesh and blood, but he called us ‘nana’ and ‘poppa’ and their grandmother was gone. He was a good boy and he was so young. He was just always smiling.”
A GoFundMe account has been established for Jacob’s family and as of Monday afternoon, has already raised $2,400 in just three days on the strength of 45 donors.
“His death was unexpected and the family is looking to give him a proper funeral service,” Anthony stated on the page. “Jacob served his country in the USMC and left behind many loved ones. He will truly be missed by all. Any donation would be a great help to give him what he truly deserves.”
To donate to the Jacob Mojarro Funeral Expenses fund, visit www.gofundme.com/hej34kbt. Memorials may also be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, KS 66675.
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.