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I-40 Crash Cost Thousands: Who Should Pay?

Posted August 3, 2007
Updated August 4, 2007

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— One week after a fatal crash shut down Interstate 40 in Wake County, charges are pending against one of the drivers.

One person was killed and five others were injured.

The clean-up costs were in the thousands, officials said. But who should pay the bill? Department of Transportation officials said they want to make sure it’s not the taxpayers.

Troopers say Robert Klimczak's truck started the chain of events that led to the massive crash on July 27. Investigators say Klimczak's pickup truck hit another pickup truck, which collided with a tractor-trailer that crashed through the median, struck other vehicles and burned.

Klimczak was driving with a suspended license, according to state troopers.

“One of the scenarios may have been a blown tire. One of the scenarios might be a lane-change violation,” said 1st Sgt. S.D. Greene. “All the information was gathered by [the reconstruction unit] and the investigating trooper, and it was presented to the district attorney. He’ll review the information that he’s gathered and go from there as far as charges.”

The crash left state transportation crews with a costly repair job.

“It comes out to about $35,000. That’s for pavement, guardrails, traffic control and labor,” said DOT spokesman Ernie Seneca. “It’s taxpayers’ money, and there were damages out there, and we’re trying to recoup.”

State DOT officials said they want the person responsible for the accident to pay. The DOT is well within its rights to try to recoup that money, according to an attorney who spoke with WRAL.

“If he’s found to be negligent or reckless, the applicable standard would be he could be liable for damages,” said attorney John Cargill.

WRAL has learned that Klimczak hired an attorney. His family said there was some type of mix-up concerning his driver’s license.

The DOT plans to review the accident report. If charges are filed, the first step in recouping the money is to send a letter to Klimczak and his insurance company.

121 Comments

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  • wizard633 Aug 5, 2007

    Neill..."We don't need bigger and better roads, we need bigger and better public transportation, which can be accomplished by raising the tax on gas by $5 - $10/gallon."

    Have you lost your mind?

  • inform Aug 5, 2007

    If insurance companies are required to pay, then everyone's rates go up. Recouping the cost of repairs is simply revenue for the state. Unless the taxpayer gets a rebate, I'm all for the state paying for it.

    If they don't want to keep them in good repair, then don't put them up in the first place.

    We don't need bigger and better roads, we need bigger and better public transportation, which can be accomplished by raising the tax on gas by $5 - $10/gallon.

    We were all done in by the auto and gas lobbies of the 20th century, and by our elected representatives in Congress!

  • jbaumg1777 Aug 5, 2007

    We pay our taxes for those guys salaries who had to go clean up the mess, direct traffic, and so on...The driver shouldn't have to pay for the damages caused by the accident. If we are going to divide the states expenses up by personal use, I want my money that went to schools back cause I'm single. I don't have a dog, so I should not have to pay for the dog parks either. For that matter, I'm not in jail so I want what I paid to support that program as well.

    That's a great idea, start making the prisoners in our jails, pay for their stays. Really, I know that's off topic but that would sure cut down on the number of people who want to go to prison for Street Cred. $119 per night plus tax

    But honestly, we've already paid for the contigency that things will need repair. Unless the guy doesn't really have a drivers license, then he's the responsible for starting the entire chain of events, when he should not have been there, and he should pay for the damages.

  • l-rae17 Aug 5, 2007

    just a small FYI for everyone, in light of the "who should pay" situation at hand.

    My mother worked with the wife of the man driving the 18-wheeler for quite some time. She said he opened his eyes the other day and has terrible burns, especially on his lower body and legs. Keep him & the other victims in your prayers.

  • darkness Aug 4, 2007

    i dont know about any of that but i WANT EVERY single dot engineer and job site foreman and every state inspector who allowed 440 to be paved/built with bad concrete to fork up for all the time and trouble we taxpayers have to endure for the seemingly never ending repair of the beltline and surrounding roads. Screw that 38000$, when put next to that.

  • BLOCKHEAD Aug 4, 2007

    smitty: I think you onto somthin' Dude !

    RE : The Almighty Lord should pay since he decided to claim a soul right in the middle of the interstate.

    RWC RE : Garnish his wages ?

    What would putting his wages on a plate of parsley accomplish ?

  • bullrod002 Aug 4, 2007

    Firestone paid for there costly mistakes a few years back, could the tire have been defective? As far as the man's license, the clerk of court make a mistake on reporting to the state a few years back in Granville county that my lawyer had been granted a continuance for my case, I went through a road check in New Mexico later that month, was held up, could'nt leave Alamorgordo for 13 hours till my lawyer got Granville county to fax NC in turn they faxed NM that my license was valid that I had not failed to appear, so after all that, maybe this man indeed had a valid license and a bad tire. Morel of story, DON'T JUDGE TO QUICKLY!!!

  • no taco p Aug 4, 2007

    If Klimczak is found guilty of causing the accident, and had a suspended license, I dont belive his insurance company will cover any claims, even the states. That is one reason he hired a lawyer.

  • IfByWhiskey-a-go-go Aug 4, 2007

    If tort law is in place already, how come there are so many bashed up guard rails that don't get fixed all over the place?

  • smitty Aug 4, 2007

    The Almighty Lord should pay since he decided to claim a soul right in the middle of the interstate.

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