Local News

Durham woman killed in I-40 head-on collision in Raleigh

Posted January 26, 2014
Updated January 27, 2014

— An 83-year-old woman from Durham died Sunday afternoon when police say she was hit head-on while traveling westbound on Interstate 40.

Preliminary information from a police officer at the scene indicates that at around 4:45 p.m., a man traveling eastbound on I-40, fell asleep at the wheel, crossed over all lanes of I-40 East and then over the median into the westbound lanes where he hit a driver head-on.

His vehicle overturned in the middle of the highway, and the vehicle he hit was pushed off the roadway and into a tree.

The driver of that vehicle, Catherine Obie, died.

Brandon Lewis Jefferson, 22, was charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle.

At least five other vehicles were involved in the wreck. It was unclear if there were any other injuries or fatalities.

Westbound Interstate 40 between Lake Wheeler Road and Gorman Street was completely closed for nearly five hours following the wreck. It wasn't until shortly before 11 p.m. that the entire roadway reopened.


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  • gregbscis Jan 28, 2014

    I agree, with PJA's assessment. He was uninjured because he fell asleep, and they would have noticed if he was under the influence of any narcotic or alcohol by either smell and/or his eyes. If he had an epileptic seizure, he would have either lost his tongue and/or sustained another injury. Statistically speaking, falling asleep behind the wheel is actually more common than drivers under the influence. You just do not hear about them unless they kill someone.

  • Alexia.1 Jan 27, 2014

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    If they did not take him to a hospital, then I would argue they have no way of knowing whether he has some medical condition. If they just take his word, then it might be that he was high on drugs, has epilepsy, diabetes, or some other issue that caused him to lose control.

  • pja1357 Jan 27, 2014

    If he had a medical condition they would have taken him to the hospital. It states he was released on bond early Monday. That didn't give him enough time to think about what he has done. Remember when you are drunk or falling asleep you are a lot more relaxed than the person you are getting ready to hit. I know as I have been in a similar situation. If you are sleepy pull over and get out of the car and let someone else drive. If you are by yourself than pull into a place and take a nap then get out and walk around and drink some coffee. Someone has possibly lost a wonderful mother, or grandmother or sister, or aunt all because this guy make a very wrong choice to get behind the wheel.

  • regbill Jan 27, 2014

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    Please do not accelerate during a head on collision. There is a lot more involved in this equation then you explain here. You need to take into account the sudden deceleration (which can take into account moving backwards) as well as the mass of each vehicle. Speeding up means that you will decelerate faster, which leads to greater force, so you will most likely not benefit by speeding up. It's kind of hard to calculate all of this into during a wreck. Try solving a few example scenarios on paper and you'll soon see that accelerating actually causes more force at impact even if the other car/truck moves backwards. Then you throw in safety features which also absorb these forces differently and that adds a whole new set of equations to consider. Ultimately, please do not speed up during a head on collision. Just my thoughts.

  • Super Hans Jan 27, 2014

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    That was my first thought as well.

  • Alexia.1 Jan 27, 2014

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    Maybe the man was up all night and half the day working in a factory? If so, perhaps his employer should be held liable.

    Perhaps the man has a medical condition of which he was not aware. He might not have fallen "asleep", but passed out for some other reason.

    Before you throw the book at this man, perhaps we should find out why he "fell asleep" first.

  • Obamacare prevails again Jan 27, 2014

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    The question now is, did the police have the median cable removed so they could use the area for U-turns in converting it to a speed trap?

  • AtALost Jan 27, 2014

    "While she is at peace, I expect the life of the driver who fell asleep will never be."

    Maybe if he's in jail for a long time, but if not, I doubt he'll think about it much. Only those grieving a loved one think about it often. Others write if off as a bad accident and get on with their lives. Sure they insist they can't get it out of their minds or dream about it while in court, but most are happy go lucky once there's no threat of prison.

  • OpinionatedMama Jan 27, 2014

    Actually, he crossed in an area near a bridge overpass where cops usually sit to catch speeders and there IS NOT MEDIAN CABLE or anything to have kept him from crossing over.

  • wanderer Jan 27, 2014

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    After I started working 3rd shift years ago, I can't drive more than a couple of hours before I get sleepy. If my family is in the car, the moment I feel I'm sleepy, I'm pulling over and asking my wife to drive. If I'm alone, I will simply pull over someplace and get out of the car or occasionally take a quick nap. It isn't worth it to keep driving!