Earlier this week, the North Carolina State Patrol issued its final accident report on the June 20, 2011 crash on Interstate 40. The accident left three dead and the driver of the tractor trailer that started the chain reaction facing multiple criminal charges.
One look at the picture of the big rig after the crash offers just a glimpse of the horrific scene that afternoon. It also serves as a reminder of more recent accidents involving tractor trailers.
According to the report, westbound traffic approaching the Highway 15-501 overpass on I-40 was moving slowly, if moving at all. Witnesses said they were going no more than 5 mph when the semi, hurtling down the highway at 65 mph, smashed into the back of a pickup truck.
From the force of the crash, the pickup flattened against the front of the truck cab. The semi pushed the truck into the back of an SUV that then smashed into a Nissan sedan. The SUV spun out onto the right shoulder. The Nissan ran into the back of a box truck; as it spun, it ran into the corner of the pickup truck that was still melded to the semi’s cab. The Nissan then spun right, came to rest in the merge lane and started to burn.
The tractor trailer finally came to rest after pushing the pickup more than 370 feet. The driver survived.
The driver of the box truck also survived. Dead at the scene were the drivers of the pickup, the SUV and the Nissan — which was so badly burned it took investigators hours just to determine it was a Nissan.
The driver remains in Durham County jail, in lieu of $1.2 million bail. The charges against him include three counts of felony death by vehicle, possession of marijuana and methadone, two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia and failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident.
Source: News & Observer, “Big rig hit slow traffic at 65 mph,” Jay Price, 07/15/2011