11-year-old killed in Gastonia crash identified

- Highway Patrol is investigating a single-vehicle crash that killed an 11-year-old boy and injured three others. 

The accident happened Wednesday night along Cabin Street in Gastonia. 

Police told FOX 46 speed was a factor in the wreck, stating the vehicle lost control on a curve, crashing into a telephone pole. 

Five people were inside the vehicle and no one was wearing seat belts, according to the highway patrol.

A 14-year-old and 15-year-old girl were in the back seat with Maquel McMullen, 11, who died. The 15-year-old girl was ejected and both girls were taken to the hospital, according to highway patrol.

Highway Patrol said the driver of the vehicle was OK and taken into custody. 

The driver, Jason Eugene Pruitt, 24, is charged with careless and reckless driving, operating a vehicle without a license, not wearing a seat-belt, one count of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, one count felony of involuntary manslaughter, and two counts child abuse. 

McMullen was a 5th grader at N. Belmont Elementary. Crisis counselors were at school Thursday.

Statement from Ryan Smith, principal of North Belmont Elementary School:

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our students.  He was very popular and a friend to everyone.  He was a good student with a great personality and sense of humor and was well-loved by his classmates and teachers.  All of us are shocked by this tragedy – it has affected our entire school family.”

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