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Lake Wylie Camaro driver charged in deadly wreck

A woman police say was involved in a deadly street race in southwest Mecklenburg County earlier this month was charged today with three counts of second-degree murder.

Carlene Carol Atkinson, 44, of Lake Wylie, had told authorities she was driving the black Camaro police say was racing another car that crashed into a Mercedes as it tried to enter N.C. 49. State records show Atkinson has 14 speeding convictions over the past 10 years in the Carolinas, and one pending case in Mecklenburg.

Tyler Stasko, 20, was charged earlier this month with three counts of second-degree murder in connection with the April 4 wreck. Police say he was driving a Mitsubishi Eclipse that collided with the Mercedes. Stasko was released from the Mecklenburg County jail last week on $45,000 bond.

Killed in the Mercedes was Cynthia Furr, 45, a Winthrop University assistant professor and church choir director. Her 2-year-old daughter, McAllister, was airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.

Hunter Holt, a 13-year-old passenger in Stasko's car, died the following day from injuries sustained in the wreck.

Atkinson's prior convictions do not meet South Carolina's current threshold for a driver to lose her license.

But the crash and her driving record have raised questions in South Carolina about whether the current driving law should be tougher. Several S.C. lawmakers say they will consider beefing up the current law.

Rep. Jim Harrison, R-Columbia, and chairman of the influential S.C. House Judiciary Committee, expressed disbelief this month when told about Atkinson's driving record. His committee would likely handle any proposed changes on suspending or taking away a license.

Under current S.C. law:

- A person's license isn't suspended until it has accumulated 12 points against it.

- The state removes half the points from each speeding ticket after 12 months and the rest after two years.

- If a driver gets close to 12 points, he or she can take a driving class and get four points removed. That class can be taken once every three years.

In 2004, Atkinson was ticketed four times for speeding and was on course to have her license suspended. But she took a state-sanctioned defensive driving class that shaved four points from her record, according to Beth Parks, a spokeswoman for S.C. DMV. That kept her from reaching 12 points against her license, which would have triggered an automatic three-month suspension.