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Driver, Highway Contractors Sued Over Fatal Wreck

Posted January 18, 2008
Updated January 19, 2008

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— The estates of three members of a Hillsborough family killed in a Christmas Day 2006 wreck near Wendell have sued a driver involved in the wreck and two contractors that worked on the highway.

Charles Burger Jr., his wife and their son were driving to Wilson for Christmas when a westbound Chevrolet Tahoe spun out of control on the U.S. Highway 64 Bypass near Wendell, crossed the center median and collided head-on with their passenger van.

Barbara Burger, 57, and Ivan Burger, 20, were pronounced dead at the scene. Charles Burger died a week later.

The driver of the Tahoe, Billy Ray Bullock Jr., 35, of Raleigh, pleaded guilty last May to three counts of misdemeanor death by vehicle. He was sentenced to 120 days in jail, which was suspended to three years on probation and 100 hours community service.

North Carolina Highway Patrol troopers determined that excessive speed was the primary factor in the wreck. But the state Department of Transportation erected warning signs and repaved the stretch of U.S. 64 where the accident occurred after determining improper drainage made the highway slick when wet and contributed to a large number of wrecks.

Authorities also said a cable guardrail in the median that had been knocked out in an earlier accident played a factor in the wreck.

In suits filed Friday, the Burgers' estates alleged Bullock was driving recklessly.

The estates also named North Carolina Contractors, the paving company for the highway, and Elderlee Inc., the guardrail contractor, as defendants in the suits. They allege that the highway construction created dangerous conditions and that the median guardrail should have been repaired more quickly to minimize the risk of head-on collisions.

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