By Russ Lay | Outer Banks Voice on August 30, 2012It’s been almost a year since Joe Storie was killed in a crash at the intersection of Colington Road and U.S. 158.
On Oct. 5, 2011 the traffic light at one of the busiest intersections in Dare County malfunctioned. The light went into a special mode, flashing yellow on the “bypass” and red on Colington.
Since that day, much has happened.
The driver of the car that ended Joe Storie’s life and injured two other occupants was charged with driving while impaired, felony death by vehicle and two counts of serious injury by vehicle.
Luis Rodriguez, 44, fled once, was returned to Dare County, fled a second time, and remains at large.
Meanwhile, a debate over the town’s responsibility to police the intersection after the lights malfunctioned eventually led to lower speed limits.
For the Storie family, none of those issues is more important than the fact that they lost a beloved relative and that a driver alleged to have been drunk was responsible.
Lost in all of this discussion was a more important story: Who was Joe Storie?
As it turns out, he was a special person and one who, like many of our visitors, loved the place we call home.
The October visit was a family vacation. Joe, who was 51 when he died, and other family members came down in May to be a part of the official opening of Jennette’s Pier, a seven-hour drive for family members, who mostly reside in Lenoir, N.C.
They planned to return to Dare in October, when the fishing picked up. Two of Joe’s sisters, his wife, one of his sister’s boyfriends, an uncle and his wife made the October trip to the Outer Banks.
The men and one sister went fishing on the Crystal Dawn; the rest went shopping.
As Chris Storie, one of the sisters told us, “After fishing, we all decided to go to Mama Kwans because we love to eat there.”
Chris, Joe, his wife Alicia and Paul Thomas, the driver, were on their way to Kwan’s about 7:30 p.m. when the collision occurred.
Sister Denise says about her brother: “Joe was a simple man with a generous soul He was a person who always made you feel comfortable and welcome — there was always room for one more!”
Ironically, the day before the collision, Joe had gone through the Colington intersection and had commented, “how sad it was that four crosses were there,” she said.
“Joe Storie is the best Dad, son, brother, husband, uncle, and friend that you can ever have. He never put himself before anyone. Out of seven kids, he was the middle child and he was always the one we went to when we needed advice, help with something, or just to hang out and have fun with. Our Mom was the head of our family and Joe was the protector.”
Joe left a wife, Alicia, three sons, Matthew, Shane and Blake, one of whom is still a minor, two brothers and four sisters.
He was a brick mason for 30 years. Chris tells us a story about his character:
“He was part owner of Norris and Storie Construction. When you see burly construction guys sobbing their eyes out, you know someone is missed. I saw him go many weeks on just $100 so he and his partner could pay their guys.”The family first came to the Outer Banks in 1997 and “fell in love with the place.” They returned numerous times, and over the last three years the Storie family made it point to come here twice a year — in May and again in September or October.
“Joe loved fishing. Trout, surf, deep sea. You name it, he loved it. We were at Jeanette’s Pier opening day last year. We had gone out on the Crystal Dawn fishing the day we lost our precious Joe,” Chris said.
He coached Optimist football teams for two of his sons and a nephew, played football for eight years of school himself and also wrestled. He planted a huge garden each year and shared the harvest with all he knew.
Chris tells us he once met a stranger, an elderly man in Walmart. The next day Joe took him fishing and they became fast friends over the course of many years.
Denise adds more detail to the man Joe was. Here is what she said in its entirety:
“From an early age he began collecting coins. He was always catching a ride to a flea market looking for coins and would ask to see your change in case there was a coin you needed to save. I work in a high school and used the word numismatist one day, which means a collector of coins. I texted Joe and said, ‘Did you know you are a numismatist?’ He replied, ‘Yes, I have known that for a long time!’
“I was impressed because I did not realize there was a name other than coin collector for his hobby. Over the years my children and I have received some of his special coins for gifts, which we now cherish even more.
“Joe loved the outdoors and Appalachian football. My sons went to college at Appalachian, and our family soon came to enjoy the football games.
“We would tailgate before the games. Joe always had his grill in the back of the truck and a big pot of chili ready.
“Anyone coming by was always welcome to eat with him. If we could not make the games we got together at one of our houses and watched them on TV.
“We spent a lot of time outdoors with him. Joe and I both had pontoons and spent endless days on Lake James together and with the other siblings when they could come.
“Our Mom hated the water, but she would even come on occasion just to be with Joe.
“We also enjoyed motorcycle riding and camping. He loved getting up and cooking a big breakfast.
“Our families began getting a huge cabin in the mountains during Thanksgiving and as many of us could go would make it. Joe loved having us all together and cooking, playing cards, fishing, and making beef jerky.
“Once I forgot to take jeans and he heard me say that. Needless to say he made a Walmart run. After he had been back awhile, I went to my room and there laid a bag with a pair of jeans in it. That is just the way he was. Our last Thanksgiving together he had a ham on the grill and a turkey in the oven.
“He was not much of a singer, but my boys talked him into singing a Boy George karaoke song that last Thanksgiving and he promised to do a Michael Jackson the next year — but then that year never came.
“One thing Joe did not like was the Dallas Cowboys football team, but it was our Mom’s favorite team. She had just had a hip replacement and the Cowboys were going to play the Panthers in Charlotte. She wanted to go, so Joe got some tickets and took her with wheelchair in tow. She had a fabulous time. He was a Redskin fan so you can only imagine the times we had when Cowboys played the Redskins!
“I never met a soul that said anything negative about Joe. There was just something special about him. Some people have that gift and he was one of them.
“My youngest son was able to speak at the funeral. He summed it up by reciting something my new daughter-in-law had said: ‘He was the best Storie ever told.’ ”