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Distracted driving blamed for DOT worker's death

Posted June 2, 2010

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— Distracted driving is to blame for the death of a state Department of Transportation worker killed Wednesday morning when a tractor-trailer crashed into him, authorities said.

Jonathan King, 21, of Autryville, was killed around 7 a.m. as he worked on the shoulder of Interstate 40 at milemarker 364 in Duplin County, the state Highway Patrol said.

Another DOT worker, Bradly Williams, also of Autryville, was injured. He was treated and released from Sampson Memorial Hospital.

Authorities said the tractor-trailer's driver, Ernest Harris, of St. Pauls, had been looking at some shipping papers just before the crash.

"He took his eyes off the road for a minute," Highway Patrol 1st Sgt. Will Thurston said. "When he looked back up, he was across the white line headed right for the DOT truck, and there was nothing he could do but hit the truck."

Harris faces charges of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, reckless driving, failing to maintain lane control and failure to reduce speed.

DOT spokeswoman Greer Beatty said King and Williams were preparing for a lane closure for bridge construction in the area.

King had gotten out of his truck to unhook a construction sign from it when the tractor-trailer hit and pinned him.

"Somebody took their eyes off the road just a minute, and a terrible thing happened," Thurston said. "That's how quickly it could happen. So I would just ask people to be careful and drive carefully and responsibly."

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  • FromClayton Jun 3, 2010

    so sad.

  • prez23062 Jun 2, 2010

    i went to high school with this man, and he will be missed. Jonathan put smiles on the faces of many during the time that i knew him. may you rest in peace.

  • mrcritic Jun 2, 2010

    i feel terrible for Garrett and his dad

  • clynns1014 Jun 2, 2010

    What a sad story! A 21 year old lost his life to someone who wasn't paying attention!

  • wakeconative4ever Jun 2, 2010

    freewill, i read your comment and i thought, Oh gosh, did i say i hope he was impaired, oh no!!! and then i read MY comment and it said i hope they find out IF he was impaired....please read my comment again...i would NEVER hope anyone was impaired as my husband is a state trooper...please read my comment again...i'm not that dumb

  • str8thuggin Jun 2, 2010

    Really, as if the trucking industry hasn't had enough attention in the last month. You'd figure with 60k-80k lbs behind you, you would.

  • Objective Scientist Jun 2, 2010

    Having scanned through the comments posted up to 5:33 PM as I write this... I'll add the following: Yes, unfortunately this could have happened to any of us who drive the streets/highways... and it is not as much as could have, but rather it does happen everyday and if has not happened to you yet, it may happen tomorrow. Everyone has absolutely got to stop doing at least most of the things we do while driving other than DRIVE. Don't eat while driving... I can't think of any instance in which someone absolutely HAS TO EAT while driving. Ditto for putting on make-up, shaving, "fixing" hair, reading, texting, talking on the phone, sex, or whatever. Do those things before leaving home/office or what until you return!!! Being responsible for controlling (supposedly) a vehicle of a ton or more at highway speeds (any speed for that matter) is something to take seriously!!! It's really easy... not much of what we do while driving, other than driving, is truly necessary. STOP IT!!!

  • saved by his grace Jun 2, 2010

    Prayers go out to all Families involved. Why are people so judgemental is beyond comprehension. We all are guilty of looking away from the road for a second, whether or not it was to adjust a mirror, eating, look at your husband or wife, or children while talking etc... this tragedy could have happened to anyone of us while driving a car. Perhaps DOT need some policy changes, maybe lower speed limits a mile before workers begin, as the report states he was not speeding. I am speaking as someone who has lost a loved one, and there is healing in forgiveness

  • Freewill Jun 2, 2010

    OMG, garrettsmom. I can't believe that someone would even say they HOPE they would find that this guy was impaired. That is so heartless. This was a very very tragic accident for all involved. I would NEVER wish or hope any harm and/or bad to ANYONE!!Yes, people need to pay more attention all of us, trucks, cars, & motorcycles. People in this world NEED to put GOD back in thier life, schools, homes, workplace and in thier HEART!! Then this world will be a better place. NEVER JUDGE or you to will be judged. I'm sure everyone involved in the tragedy is suffering right now. My prayers go out to all those sufferin from this.. God Bless!!

  • familyfour Jun 2, 2010

    I am not defending this particular trucker, but truckers in general. Idiots are out there behind the wheels of everything on the road.

    Those who choose to stop short in front of them, pull out in front of them, and cut them off (big trucks) are the true idiots.

    Much respect for anyone who has to drive for a living, or work on the roadways. Dangerous out there, no matter where your spot is. People are inconsiderate. That is what makes it dangerous.

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