Local News

Charge upgraded in triple fatal I-40 crash

Posted July 5, 2011

— A charge was upgraded Tuesday against a tractor-trailer driver involved in a wreck on Interstate 40 last week that killed three people.

Ronald Eugene Graybeal, 50, of Newport, Tenn., now faces two charges of felony death by vehicle and one count of misdemeanor death by vehicle. He previously was charged with one felony and two misdemeanors.

Troopers say Graybeal was driving west on I-40 near U.S. Highway 15/501 on Thursday afternoon when he crashed into four vehicles, killing three of the drivers.

The semi hit a Ford F-250 truck driven by John Hall Llanio, 38, of Kannapolis, a Chevrolet Equinox driven by Barbara Boda Caldwell, 64, of Mebane, and a vehicle driven by Gary Dwayne Smith, 45, of Burlington, authorities said. All three died.

It also hit a box truck driven by Reginald Keith Thompson, 49, of Greensboro, who suffered non-life-threatening injuries, authorities said.

Graybeal also was charged with driving while impaired and possession of marijuana, methadone and drug paraphernalia. He was being held in the Durham County jail under a $600,000 bond.


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  • Paul Parker Jul 5, 2011

    seankelly15 from the pictures, it looked to me like the semi hit the side of the F250 NOT the rear, which would tend to corroborate the witnesses story. In that case (if he hit the side of the F250) it would be the fault of the F250 not the semi for following too close. Perhaps you can provide a LINK to something else.

  • Paul Parker Jul 5, 2011

    seankelly15 please provide a link. We have provided a link to media reports stating that the F250 caused the accident, which you flat out denied existed, but you have yet to provide a link verifying that the witness was wrong.
    All you have given so far are unsubstantiated claims and your feelings that he was lying.

  • seankelly15 Jul 5, 2011

    Whether the mechanic told a fanciful tale (no other witnesses corroborated his story and it certainly wasn't in the accident report) or not doesn't really matter,the driver of the tractor-trailer would be guilty of following too close to avoid an accident when the vehicles in front of him stopped. That would be a civil matter and they could have argued in court about the actions of the pickup driver, but more than likely the tractor trailer driver would be at fault for following too close (it is almost impossible to win a case when you have struck someone from behind). Ah, but in this case three people died because of the tractor-trailer driver's negligence (following too close). Now we have criminal charges of vehicular homicide. Bad enough but then they find that the tractor-trailer driver is high on grass and methadone, now it becomes a felony death because of the DUI.

  • seankelly15 Jul 5, 2011

    Your story was on the first of July... since then the highway patrol has released the official report...no F-250 doing anything like the witness described. If you actually listened to the guy you would have realized that he was a flake. He said that had witnessed the same type of accident in Atlanta and that he kicked the windshield out and saved a mother and her child as the car was burning. Why would anyone offer that story if they are being asked about what just happened?

  • Paul Parker Jul 5, 2011

    @ rescuefan If he did not cause the accident then the ONLY thing he should be charged with is DUI!

  • rescuefan Jul 5, 2011

    Well, he deserves to be charged because he was DWI. That's the chance he took when he decided to take drugs and drive. Anyone who drinks and drives can face the same charges, even if they don't cause the accident. Another good reason to NOT drink and drive.

  • atozca Jul 5, 2011

    Jason Lee Dorsey, a mechanic at Toyota of North Charlotte, was headed home to Belmont when the I-40 accident unfolded in front of him.

    Dorsey said a Ford F-250 pickup truck apparently hit the rear of a Chevrolet Equinox, then skidded sideways into the path of a tractor-trailer rig. The 18-wheeler T-boned the pickup and pushed it down the left lane of the highway, grinding it up.

    Read more: http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/07/01/1313478/wrecks-on-triangle-interstates.html#comment-240109717#ixzz1RGczyud3

    So why is this driver being charged with the deaths of the others. Sounds like he was doing his thing when the p/u came into his path. Sad. Praying for the Graybeal family.

  • Paul Parker Jul 5, 2011

    @ cantstandgoloanymore I believe they could be charging him because of the idea, that seems very prevalent nowadays, that if someone is DUI and is involved in an accident it is by default their fault.

  • gnewsome1 Jul 5, 2011

    "Authorities said that Graybeal's tractor-trailer crashed into four vehicles on I-40 West, near U.S. Highway 15/501, killing Gary Dwayne Smith, 45, of Burlington, John Hall Llanio, 38, of Kannapolis, and Barbara Boda Caldwell, 64, of Mebane. A fourth man was treated and released from Duke University Hospital" Stop taking up for the killer people.

  • rescuefan Jul 5, 2011

    I think we lost seankelly somewhere...