BURKE COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - A young mother killed in a crash in Burke County Wednesday morning has been identified by officials as 19-year-old Chelsea Buchanan.
Officials say the fatal wreck happened around 5:30 a.m. in a neighborhood off Waterford Way near Lake James.
Neighbors say Buchanan was driving incredibly fast, ran over some bushes, turned around, sped down a road and slammed into a tree. The engine and transmission went flying out from under the car due to the impact.
Authorities say the speedometer was locked at 72 miles an hour. The speed limit in the area was 25.
"A catastrophic collision," said North Carolina Highway Patrol First Sgt. Brian Joines.
Troopers are still trying to determine why it happened. There is no evidence of alcohol, but also no reason as to why she was in the neighborhood. It was ten miles or more from where she was staying.
Buchanan, of Valdese, is the mother of an 18-month girl.
Buchanan's cousin, Christie Presnell, brought a bouquet of flowers to place at the base of the tree Wednesday afternoon.
"We were so close," she said, as tears streamed down her cheeks.
She talked with Chelsea around 3 a.m. and says the last thing she told her was "I love you."
As troopers try to figure out why the crash happened, the family says it has another major issue - Chelsea's 18-month-old daughter.
Christie said Chelsea "Loved that baby so much," and now, "That baby has to grow up without her momma."
The family will have to find a way to deal with it.
"I know she will ask, 'where's my momma, where's my momma?'" Presell says that question will be tough for everyone. "What are we gonna tell her?"
The crash remains under investigation.