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Driver's body recovered from truck that plunged into Haw River

Posted March 8, 2012
Updated March 9, 2012

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— The body of a truck driver was pulled from a tractor-trailer Thursday afternoon about three hours after the truck ran off U.S. Highway 1 in Chatham County and into the Haw River.

The flatbed truck veered off northbound U.S. 1 at about 11:45 a.m. about a quarter-mile before the bridge over the river, which is between Exits 79 and 81 on the highway.

The truck spilled its load of logs, knocked down a highway sign and angled back toward the road, scraping the outside of the northbound bridge before plunging down an embankment into the river, witnesses said.

"The cab of the truck rode on the rail of the bridge, with the trailer hanging down (until) it reached the point where the trailer dragged the rest of the truck down into the river," Sgt. Ron Elkins of the state Highway Patrol said.

Passing drivers clambered down the embankment, but they weren't able to reach the driver in the submerged truck cab.

"A couple of the passersby were down there beating on the cab, trying to see if they could find anything," witness Mickey Mann said.

Emergency crews also failed in their efforts to rescue the driver. The Highway Patrol identified the driver as Ronald Mack Brown, 49, of Sanford. He drove for Matthew Johnson Logging in Sanford.

Truck in Haw River Attempts to save driver in submerged truck cab fail

There was no evidence Brown tried to brake during the incident, and state troopers were trying to determine if he suffered a medical condition that caused him to lose control of the truck.

Truck driver Ernest Reaves said he knows the risks that go with handling a big rig.

"Weight's the main factor. Once something happens like that, the weight is what's going to push it on," Reaves said.

The truck's cab was pulled from the river shortly after 3 p.m., but the trailer remained on the riverbank after 5 p.m. One northbound lane of U.S. 1 remained closed so a crane could try to remove the trailer.

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  • mileage be playing dat Mar 9, 2012

    I am glad this was not boxtruck charlie but sad for this guy.

  • goncampn2 Mar 9, 2012

    @ goodnav - "serenity of the universe" will provide comfort?....Hmmmm!!

  • seankelly15 Mar 9, 2012

    PaintedTaz - I understand your sentiment, however, why is your "public service announcement" only for the benefit of truck drivers? Shouldn't the courtesy you describe be extended TO ALL VEHICLES on the road?

  • lfields2 Mar 9, 2012

    A big Amen to PaintedTaz!!!!

  • piloterror1 Mar 9, 2012

    venturing a guess - mechanical failure. logging trucks are the most frequent violators of equipment regulations.
    not to mention that nearly every one i see on the road has trees hanging off the back with a rag tied to it, and rocks, dirt & debris flying off onto following vehicles. i have had to replace a number of windshields thanks to logging trucks.

  • goobnav Mar 9, 2012

    Hopefully the serenity of the Universe has embraced him and his family and will comfort them through these trying times.

  • PaintedTaz Mar 9, 2012

    Echoing what many have said and feel - my heartfelt prayers to Ronalds family, friends and co-workers. Positive thoughts, prayers and thanks to the passerby's that stopped to try to help. I'm sure it means a lot to his family to know that people rushed to try to help him.

    My little public service announcement…to all the drivers that zip around and cut in front of and then hit your brakes to make a quick approaching exit (or just to get one vehicle ahead of the pack)...please pause and think about what it means to stop or even slow down a loaded rig. No telling what caused this accident but every time I see someone cut off a tractor trailer it makes me feel so bad for the drivers of those rigs. They are out there trying to make a living and deliver or pick up things that we all need in our day to day life...give them some respect, give them some space and be courteous drivers! No errand, appointment or cup of coffee is worth some ones life.

  • sheriann1964 Mar 9, 2012

    I AM REALLY SHOCKED MY THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS ARE WITH THE BROWN FAMILY I WENT TO SCHOOL WITH RONALD AND FOR AS LONG AS I KNEW HIM HE HAD A HEART OF GOLD HE WOULD LITERALLY GIVE YOU THE SHIRT OFF HIS BACK IF YOU NEEDED IT THIS IS VERY TRAGIC

  • BEACH Mar 9, 2012

    theisengirl
    PLEASE LET THAT MOM KNOW PEOPLE CARE AND ARE PRAYING FOR HER SO MUCH, to lose 2 of her children within a year.
    May your family find some peace.

  • BEACH Mar 9, 2012

    Lots of Prayers for the family. I pray the man did not suffer. Thanks to the people that try to save him. What a good job trying.
    Rest in Peace.

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