Local News

Explosion, Fire Follow Fatal Wreck On Eastbound I-40 In Johnston County

Posted April 20, 2004

— A deadly wreck and its aftermath backed up traffic on Interstate 40 in Johnston County for eight hours Monday.

The state Highway Patrol says a Smithfield motorist was killed after driving westbound in the eastbound lanes around 11:30 p.m. Sunday near mile marker 320.

"We got a call from a cellular phone that a car was going the wrong way on the interstate," said Trooper Michael Dorsey of the Highway Patrol.

Five minutes later, another call came.

"They called back and confirmed we had a fatality," Dorsey said.

The driver of a Chevrolet Cavalier collided with a Honda Accord head-on.

Sean Morley, 23, the driver of the Cavalier, died at the scene. Two people in the Accord -- 19-year-old Esther Danielle Ryan and 21-year-old Brandon Scott Farrow -- are listed in critical condition.

Officials say drugs or alcohol do not appear to be factors.

As authorities investigated the first accident, troopers got a call at 1:26 a.m. about a second accident involving four trucks less than two miles away that resulted in an explosion and fire.

"This accident was a result of traffic being backed up from the fatality," Dorsey said.

The Highway Patrol says a tractor trailer swerved right to miss a stalled vehicle in the roadway. Four tractor trailers collided; two erupted in flames.

Crews worked to put out fire that lit up I-40 near mile marker 319.

None of the truck drivers received life-threatening injuries, officials said.

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