Local News

I-95 reopens after double fatal crash near Dunn

Posted January 12, 2010

— A couple from New Jersey died Tuesday morning after the man apparently fell asleep at the wheel, crashed and was hit by an 18-wheeler on Interstate 95 north near Dunn, according to troopers.

The crash initially shut down I-95 in both directions from Exit 71, Long Branch Road, to Exit 72, Springbranch/Joe Pope Road. All lanes reopened by 8:45 a.m.

I-95 reopens after fatal crash near Dunn I-95 reopens after fatal crash near Dunn

Bert William Baytops, 55, was headed to New Jersey with his girlfriend, Tralina Covington, 38, after picking up a car in Georgia, according to authorities.

Troopers said they believe he fell asleep, ran off the right shoulder, over-corrected, hit a guardrail in the median and flipped the car.

The car came to a stop, upright, in the middle of the northbound lanes and an 18-wheeler crashed into the back of the car, which burst into flames, authorities said.

Baytops died in the fire, authorities said. Covington was ejected from the car and died from her injuries.

The tractor-trailer driver, Jeffrey Drumm, of Thomaston, Conn., survived the crash, troopers said. He was driving a load of cars to East Coast Auto Movers in Rockland, Mass.

Crews spent several hours removing the 18-wheeler, which jackknifed and came to rest on a guard rail.


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  • antired2 Jan 13, 2010

    My boyfriend is related to Tralina Covington. I personally have not met her, but I am terribly sorry for the sudden loss and pain to all parties involved. Much support, prayer, and love will be shown to the family survived by Tralina.

    To those of us who travel the roads and at times get tired, please, pull to a "safe" location and take a quick nap. I, too, have been guilty of falling asleep on the road...eyes blinking to stay awake and all. In the blinking of an eye something tragic and sad like this can happen.

    God Bless and thank you for your prayers.


  • Adelinthe Jan 12, 2010

    What a shame!

    Praying for their loved ones.

    God bless.


  • MadderMan Jan 12, 2010

    I live just outside of Dunn, and agree that there seem to be more than our share of horrible accidents in this area. I know speed is often part of the equation, but you are also dealing with large numbers of people from different states trying to navigate the same road with different driving styles. Not to pick on anyone, but the Florida drivers are usually the ones you see doing the dumbest things. Mix them with the northerners who think speed limits don't apply to them, and fatigue from driving too long, and presto change'o, car into junk and loss of life. It is very sad, and even sadder is the limited hotel/motel availability all along I-95 from border to border to give folks a chance to stop if they want to. Dunn itself has only three decent hotels to choose from, and the ones in Smithfield are high dollar due to the Pottery visitors.Lot's of empty space in between.

    By the way,the lanes are NOT any narrower on this section of I-95.There are specs that have to be met, and they are.

  • Hatchcover Jan 12, 2010

    I recall reading years ago this section of I-95 is the point where drivers become tired and weary for those traveling from the far North and South. I don't remember the stats but I think more accidents happen in the NC portion for that reason.

  • Glass Half Full Jan 12, 2010

    Typically I commute on I-95 & I-40 5 days a week. That was a sad scene this morning. Prayers to the families of all involved and the workers on the scene. That had to be tough. From my experiences I see many more wrecks on I-40, however, the wrecks I see on I-95 are much more severe. Don't think more lanes would have prevented this one, or most that I see. It's up to drivers to be responsible for the vehicle they're operating and to watch out for the others around them.

  • areadriver Jan 12, 2010

    Adding anither lane wouldn't have helped anybody here, but the road is in desperate need of updates. THey raised the speed limit, without lengthening the on/off ramps; the lanes are narrow, but building more road does not stop the cause of the problem here... falling asleep. Dunn, NC is half way between NY and FL, and it's a place on the map where people have been driving all day or night, and get tired and fatigued. Get off the road if you are tired, and save some lives.

  • k9sandQtrs Jan 12, 2010

    very sad for everyone involved.

  • hi_i_am_wade Jan 12, 2010

    I-95 is in desperate need of another lane. In Johnston county, it is especially bad. The lanes are narrow and the ramps are short. I-95 is the north-south artery on the east coast. It needs to be no less than 3 lanes from border to border. Expanding I-95 is a lot more important than many other projects. But because it isn't a pet project or doesn't affect a DOT engineer directly, it isn't even thought about.

  • Grandpeople Jan 12, 2010

    This is sad for all concerned. I pray the truck driver and live the rest of his life in peace - this was not his fault. I pray for the families of those who passed.

  • luvtoshag Jan 12, 2010

    This is the same stretch of road that claimed the life of a 6 year old girl on Christmas Day when her family wrecked coming back from Disney.