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

Posted January 26, 2014
Updated January 27, 2014

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— 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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  • LocalYokel Jan 27, 2014

    Driver that crossed center of divided highway should be charged with felony not misdemeanor.

    How many tickets were issued on this stretch of roadway before this wreck?

  • didisaythat Jan 27, 2014

    Can't charge a felony, because it appears he was not under the influence. I was traveling east on 40 and passed this a short time after it occurred. It is amazing he survived, unfortunately. Not that I want anyone to die, but he being the cause should be the one that dies, not an innocent driver.

  • bellabee Jan 27, 2014

    Just a question: when is an accident just that? Don't chew my head off, please. I'm truly just asking. I understand he fell asleep at the wheel and I understand there was a death. Not saying he shouldn't have been charged but also not understanding why he was. Can someone explain?

  • btneast Jan 27, 2014

    View quoted thread

    He was charged because he was at fault. Whether he intended to or not doesn't change the fact that he was at fault. There really is no such thing as an accident....there is always a "cause", whether it be intentional, negligent or not.

  • Obamacare prevails again Jan 27, 2014

    Charge this man with murder. No excuse for falling asleep at the wheel, especially at 5 pm.

  • jackaroe123 Jan 27, 2014

    Uh, if anyone has to die, I suppose it's preferable that the person at fault be that person, but it is not unfortunate that ANYONE survives. That's really horrible phrasing.

  • BlahBlahBlahBlahBlah Jan 27, 2014

    He could have the narcolepsy sleep disorder...Some people get extremely sleepy if they eat one of those huge Sunday dinners..I know that I have felt very sleepy on some Sundays as I am driving from a huge family meal..We just can not judge this young man until we know more...

  • towermansgirl Jan 27, 2014

    i was four cars behind the guy in silver when this happened. most horrific thing ive ever seen. my heart goes out to the families of all involved. i said to my bf "i think we just saw someone die" i feel this guy is wrong and should be charged. he made the decision to get behind that wheel, and changed lives forever, and ended one. this could have been avoided! just the other day i had a friend with me and i was sleepy, kept drifting, at one point i said " im sorry but i need you to drive" it was as easy as that. his life will forever be haunted by the fact that he chose to drive in that condition, and he took a life. has anything been said about a tox report? or was he really just "tired"?

  • EricaSliver Jan 27, 2014

    How tragic for this woman...my thoughts are with her family and friends as well as those injured in this accident.

  • sinenomine Jan 27, 2014

    Bellabee, my definition of an accident is when a casualty like this crash occurs which could not have been avoided despite the greatest amount of care and foresight on the part of the parties involved.

    This was not an "accident". This man fell asleep at the wheel, a foreseeable possibility for any driver. We all know the warning symptoms of drowsiness and we all know what we're supposed to do when we feel them when driving. If we fail to act appropriately then we can be charged with any resulting crash.