Motorist rescued in ravine improves

The Caldwell County woman who survived five days in her wrecked truck before rescuers found her has been upgraded to fair condition at Carolinas Medical Center, a hospital spokeswoman said Thursday.

Amber Pennell, 21, suffered critical injuries after crashing into a ravine on the way to her Lenoir home from work last week.

Rescuers, who searched for days, found her Monday night. She was lucid but weak, having not eaten or drunk anything for days. She was moved from intensive care Wednesday night.

Victoria Cherrie

Meck briefs


A soggy stadium delayed one junior varsity football game Thursday, but unless more rain falls the fields should be fine for today's varsity games, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools spokeswoman said.

Standing water at the entrance to North Mecklenburg High's stadium led CMS to postpone Thursday's JV game with Butler, said Carmen Bray.

Heavy rains Tuesday and Wednesday led district officials to start planning for delays if the fields were too swampy.

But as of Thursday afternoon delays for Friday games looked unnecessary, Bray said.

Ann Doss Helms

Regional briefs

Wake County


North Carolina's top mental health official has ordered an independent review of the Goldsboro hospital where an unattended patient died after chocking on medication.

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dempsey Benton said Thursday that the Division of Mental Health must find an independent hospital management firm to evaluate Cherry Hospital.

Benton also said he wanted more security personnel assigned to the hospital.

The patient died in April after he was left unattended in a chair for 22 hours. Video surveillance footage shows employees playing cards and watching television.

Associated Press

South Carolina


The University of South Carolina has unveiled a portrait and created a scholarship fund to honor of one of six students killed in a beach house fire in North Carolina last fall.

The portrait of Cassidy Fae Pendley was presented during a ceremony Thursday by the College of Engineering and Computing. The 18-year-old chemical engineering freshman died in a blaze in Ocean Isle Beach on Oct. 28.

The school said Pendley's parents established the scholarship fund in her memory.

Associated Press


The Katawba Valley Land Trust has hired its first full-time employee, Austin Jenkins, as executive director.

He replaces Lindsay Pettus, who founded the Land Trust in 1992, and had served as its unpaid director.

The trust focuses on protecting land through conservation easements, the acquisition of land, and transfer of some properties to other public or private land management agencies.

To date, the trust has completed 53 land transactions and protected 6,862 acres in five S.C. counties, primarily along the Catawba River and its tributaries.

Jenkins has been working as a naturalist and natural resource manager at the Sandhill Research and Education Center of Clemson University. Jenkins will start work in early September.

Dan Huntley

Orange County

Chapel Hill

UNC Chapel Hill tennis star Christopher Kearney faces two additional felony charges in an accident Aug. 17 that injured two students.

Kearney, 20, was charged Thursday with two counts of felony serious injury by vehicle, said Chapel Hill Police Lt. Kevin Gunter.

Both victims – seniors Carolyn Anne Kubitschek, 21, of Asheville, and Casey Marie LeSawyer, 21, of Weaverville – suffered broken bones and other serious injuries.

Kearney registered a blood alcohol level of 0.18, more than twice the legal limit for drivers 21 years or older, according to a police report.

He was charged with two counts of felony hit and run, and driving while intoxicated.

The 2007 ACC Freshman of the Year in tennis has been suspended from the team. Associated Press