Local News

Driver Faces Charges After Fatal I-85 Crash

Posted February 16, 2007
Updated February 17, 2007

— Both lanes of southbound Interstate 85 near the Durham-Granville county line were closed for about eight hours Friday after a fatal accident involving three tractor-trailers.

Traffic was backed up for miles as crews worked to clear the accident, which happened shortly before 10 a.m. The roadway reopened at about 6:30 p.m.

Virgil Harris, 52, of Ahoskie and Chryss Oko, 40, of Texas were killed in the crash. Two other people were injured.

Authorities believe two of the vehicles were sitting along the shoulder of southbound I-85 near mile marker 186 in Butner when the third vehicle, operated by Xaujie Warner, struck them, causing an explosion.

Warner, of Houston, Texas, told investigators she lost control of the vehicle and ran off the road. North Carolina Highway Patrol officials said late Friday that Warner appeared sleepy and drowsy at the time of the accident.

Warner was charged with two counts misdemeanor death by motor vehicle after she was released from Duke University Hospital Friday afternoon.

Oko was a passenger in Warner's  vehicle, and Harris was one of the drivers of the parked tractor-trailers, the Highway Patrol said. The driver of the second tractor-trailer, who was not inside the truck when it crashed, was also taken to Duke University Hospital. His condition has not been released.

Witnesses also said several drivers, including a doctor from Georgetown University Medical Center, stopped to assist those involved in the accident.

Trucker Chris Lane pulled Warner from her burning cab. He said he's grateful for the one he saved but grieves for the others he couldn't.

"There's a lot of us drivers out here with families," Lane said. "I'm sure they had family. I hate (Warner) lost her boyfriend, but I guess God's got a plan for everybody."

Hazmat crews determined that there were not any hazardous materials aboard the tractor-trailers. Traffic was diverted to U.S. Highway 15 for over 10 hours while crews cleared the scene.

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  • txgallisa Feb 24, 2007

    Christopher Oko, 40, a truck driver, passed away Friday, Feb. 16, 2007, in North Carolina. Memorial service: 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, in Laurel Land Memorial Chapel. Burial: Laurel Land Memorial Park.

    Survivors: Wife, Kayla Oko of Crowley; children, Alex, Patrick, Joseph, Kevin, Kennedy, Christy and Sandra; four brothers; two sisters; and several nieces and nephews.
    Published in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on 2/23/2007.

  • hermit Feb 19, 2007

    Also, since she has been charged, NONE of this information should be made public until the trial. OR is it guilty until proven innocent as far as truck drivers are concerned?

  • hermit Feb 19, 2007

    Adrenaline does make you more awake at first. The effect doesn't last very long, however, and soon you crash and become very tired. To say that the driver acted sleepy at the scene so therefore was driving while tired is an inaccurate assumption.

  • anonemoose Feb 19, 2007

    Truckerswife, I admire you standing up for your husband and his profession. I used to drive also. I give the driver the benefit of doubt everytime I can, but this isn't one of them. She was "tired and sleepy" at the scene. Absent a head injury (which was ruled out at the ER), your adreneline will make you wide awake after a collision, the exact opposite of what you claim. Your scenarios are just grabbing at straws to exonerate the driver. If she had stated that a car had cut her off, that probably would have been reported. If she had a steer tire going down, she should have felt it, and if it had blown, there would have been evidence at the scene. It hasn't been reported that she claims any type mechanical failure. I'm sure that they will reconstruct the last 48 hours and see just how tired she would have been, but I know that many times when couples drive together, they don't spend as many hours in the sleeper as they log.

  • TruckersWife Feb 18, 2007

    Chris, You are a true Highway Angle. I know this will affect you for the rest of your life, as I too have seen terrible things in life that I still live with very many years later. May God Bless you for being there and doing everything in your power to help. I just hope that if my husband is ever in need while out on the road, that someone like you will be there to help.
    PSYCOBABBLE .... Please think, the driver said she lost control, this could have been from another vehicle (car) cutting her off, a steer tire that was going or had gone flat, or many other things! After having your adreneline pump, like hers and everyone else involved did, you too would appear to be fatiqued too! Until you are involved in something of this magnitude, you have no way of knowing what it is like. Nobody will every know if this was an accident or a collision except for the ones involved and God!

  • hdtwncam01 Feb 18, 2007

    I would like to start out saying that i am so sorry for the two that lost there lives and for the families that lost them also the ones that were injured. My name is (chris lane) as some of you already might know just by name or news coverage. For those involved in this collision was a terriable thing, and that those of you that have made comments most are good but there are several that bother me. Until u are in this type of incident you have know ideal how it feels. the heat from the trucks and the smoke along with the adreline rush the explosions from the trucks are enough for anyone. But i tried my best to save everyone involved but could not. This really lays on my shoulders,but everyone keeps telling me u done the best u could. I just wished i could have saved all. So just pray for everyone and thank god that it wasn't worse. If anyone has questions please E-mail me. And again to the families im sorry for your lost and i did pray for them. thanks for listening chris lane

  • anonemoose Feb 18, 2007

    I didn't say that she needs to go to jail, but she does need to post a bond. That's what they are for, to ensure that a person charged will appear for court. The bond is determined by the severity of the charges, the persons ties to the community, and previous history for appearing. If she can't post a bond, then she goes to the hoosegow. Like I said, if you don't think she belongs there, put your house where your mouth is, trot on up there Monday and bail her out and take her home with you. I'll be waiting to see the footage on the news.
    Also, this wasn't an accident. It was a collision. An accident is something that is the result of something unforseen. Crashing due to driving while asleep, or failing to control a vehicle that can weigh 40 tons often results in death, and is a well foreseen consequence. To call this an accident is like calling 9/11 an inexperienced plots.

  • dragonmum Feb 18, 2007

    Wow, psychobabble, calm down! I didn't suggest she not be served - but that doesn't mean she needs to go to jail - just being charged doesn't mean she's guilty - as so many have stated, sometimes an accident is just an accident. The last time I checked, compassion wasn't confined to liberals. Some people are quick to forget that there but for the grace of God go every single one of us. And I seem to remember something about doing for the least of us being like doing Christ....Hmmm...(OK, I'll confess - I'm a liberal daughter of a preacher man...and I walk the walk I talk)

  • anonemoose Feb 17, 2007

    DRAGONMUM, What would you have them do? Put her up in the Sheraton for two or three days with room service and maybe a complimentary massage? Have SHP fly in all of her family so they can be with her? Then send a cab for her to pick her up and bring her to the magistrate?? Or maybe just go ahead and give her a plane ticket to Texas, so she can avoid being served at all and not have to worry about it unless she gets caught in NC sometime in the future. She's charged with MISDEMENOR death by vehicle. That means if she gets out of the state before being served, she cannot be extradited back to be charged. She is still presumed to be innocent, but we need to make sure she comes back to stand trial. If you are so worried about her being in jail, then on Monday, trot you liberal little tail down to Magistrate, put up your house and bail her out.
    Next point, just how loudly would you be screaming if she had killed one of your family members, and the SHP had allowed her to escape any charges

  • InTheWind Feb 17, 2007

    LostCause - I don't know how I would have made it through the day yesterday without your insightful comments. You can't throw numbers around and change real life. First of all, I by no means made my comments to and about all truckers. I singled out the bad drivers. Reread my comments. Secondly, the the conversation was not about cars, motorcycles or bycicles. That is a another whole subject. I still stand by what I said about the drivers who are out there that are bad and dangerous on the road. Everytime I am on 40 between Cary and the I440 split, there are at least 2 and 3 trucks driving within a car length of each or another car. This is not safe I don't care what you think. And no, it is not all truckers, but it only takes 1 or 2 at 65mph to create havoc on the road if anything goes wrong. No, you didn't burst my bubble. I know what I see everytime I am on the highways and I wasn't that impressed by you anyway.