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Teen dies after running checkpoint

A 16-year-old Morganton boy is dead after he raced away from a driver license checkpoint, lost control of his vehicle and crashed.

Shortly after 11:30 p.m. Sunday, a male teen driving a Ford minivan ran a checkpoint that Morganton police were operating on Independence Boulevard near Freedom High School, N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper Eric Phillips said.

The officers tried to get the driver to stop, but he continued, Phillips said. Maj. Billy Bradshaw with the Morganton Department of Public Safety said the minivan nearly hit one of the officers who was trying to flag him down.

An officer in a police cruiser tried to catch up to the minivan, Bradshaw said, but wasn't able to do so before the vehicle crashed off nearby N.C. 126. The minivan reached speeds in excess of 80 mph before the crash, he said.

Phillips said the driver lost control in a curve, ran off the left side of the road, hit a fire hydrant, rolled and hit two trees and an embankment before coming to rest.

Mark Evan Skarpalezos,16, of Morganton was pronounced dead at the scene.

Skarpalezos had a learner's permit, but the permit had been suspended, the trooper said. The boy had taken the minivan without his parents' permission, Phillips said.

Standard toxicology tests were done. Results will take about a month, Phillips said.