63-year-old man killed in fiery I-40 crash

Posted August 22

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— Officials say one person died in a car fire that closed the westbound lanes of Interstate 40 in Durham Monday.

Around 10 a.m., at least three cars were fully engulfed in flames near the Davis Drive exit (Exit 280). Flames and black smoke towered into the air.

Seven cars were involved in the crash. The three that caught fire appeared to burn from the inside out.

Dempsey Smith, 63, of Wilson died as a result of the crash. Other drivers were taken to Duke and UNC Hospitals for treatment.

All lanes were closed on I-40 West, and drivers were diverted off the highway while emergency personnel put out the fires and cleared the wreckage. The road re-opened to traffic around 2 p.m.

Troopers are investigating the events that led to the crash and said it is unclear if charges will be filed.


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  • Anne Ruybal Aug 22, 1:44 p.m.
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    How awful. Rest in peace. To friends/family, very sorry for your loss.

  • Andrew Stephenson Aug 22, 12:44 p.m.
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    View quoted thread

    When I wrote my post, the time wasn't mentioned in the story. I see it has been added now.

  • Russell Chapman Aug 22, 12:18 p.m.
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    Read the story. The accident didnt happen until sometime around 10 as thats when the vehicles were engulfed in flames. Traffic at 8 am on US 1 was because it was 8am on US 1.

  • Andrew Stephenson Aug 22, 11:27 a.m.
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    I wonder if this was why US-1 was so jammed up around 8am. It was so severe, traffic on Main St/55 in Holly Springs was stop and go from the Apex/HS line.