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Police: Nothing criminal in situation that closed I-40 for hours

Posted July 2, 2010

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— Durham police don't have anyone to blame for the situation that shutdown a busy east-west route across the Triangle for more than three hours during the Wednesday evening rush hour.

A man called 911 Wednesday just after 4 p.m. to report seeing an object in the median of Interstate 40 westbound near Fayetteville Road.

The caller, who said he had recently returned from service in Iraq and had post-traumatic stress disorder, told dispatchers, "I just saw something laying on the side of the road that is every bit what were trained to look for in Iraq as an IED (improvised explosive device)."

In the call, he worried he was overreacting and offered to check it out. "I don't want the bomb squad to spend an hour out here looking at a toy," the caller said.

Police shut down the interstate in both directions after the call and spent almost four hours clearing the scene before a motorized robot sprayed high-pressure water on the object and removed it. The road reopened just after 8 p.m.

The object, which appeared to be three PVC pipes wrapped in tape, was not an explosive.

"It appears to be some foam that was wrapped up together, possibly something that fell off of a vehicle or something," D.C. Allen of the Durham Police Department said.

On Friday, Cpl. M.C. Walkowe said the criminal investigation was pretty much complete. “The device appears to not have been left on the roadway for any criminal purpose, and we do not expect to charge anyone at this time,” he said.

The Durham Sheriff's Office said a deputy who was shot during the response was recovering and in good condition Friday.

21 Comments

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  • protestthis Jul 2, 2010

    Sad thing is - the way you all go off on this - we are darned if you do - and darned if you don't. If you want to stay on the side of caution - you report it - and then when roads/highways are shut down for the publics safety - you complain. If it was a real bomb - and it went off - people were injured - you'd complain.

    I guess i'll ignore anything i see - don't want to inconvience anyone.

  • leo-nc Jul 2, 2010

    "This is a common issue - fire departments, police and EMS tying up traffic in the name of 'protection', when all they're doing is grandstanding."----

    Man, I've never seen so many whiners in my life. Poor thing. Bless your heart.

  • paginasecunda Jul 2, 2010

    "So you can shut the entire State down with a half dozen pool floats, a few bunji cords and a roll of electrical tape. The terrorists have won, surrender!"

    That was pretty much my reaction. I don't blame the guy who called it in - he has undoubtedly as an Iraq War veteran seen far too much of that, but if it is possible to gum up the works that much because something accidentally fell off someone's truck, the terrorists really have won. All they have to do is sit back and relax while we panic ourselves on a huge scale. This reaction would have never happened before 9/11. Ever.

  • WHEEL Jul 2, 2010

    So you can shut the entire State down with a half dozen pool floats, a few bunji cords and a roll of electrical tape. The terrorists have won, surrender!

  • Hatchcover Jul 2, 2010

    "That whole mess made me realize that if the alarms for Sherron Harris ever go off, we will all be doomed to die in our cars on some road trying to get out of town!!"- missingVA

    You watch too many movies. - smcallah

    Good call missingVA - obviously smcallah know nothing of the mass traffic debacle in Wake County a few years back when everyone tried leaving work early to beat an minor ice glazing!

    It was great TV though!

  • commonsensical Jul 2, 2010

    Can you say 'overreaction'? The public should be growing tired of the agencies that work for them flexing their muscles and exercising their power to inconvenience everyone. This is a common issue - fire departments, police and EMS tying up traffic in the name of 'protection', when all they're doing is grandstanding. I'm not minimizing their contribution, but there should be some focus on getting the job done in a timely manner. Their jobs ARE boring most of the time, so it's human nature to drag things out when they're out in the public eye.

  • truthandhappiness Jul 2, 2010

    I agree 100% with arohdhuntr and I think the man who called this in & the Durham police for the actions that they took. I was one who was stuck in traffice & it took me 1 hour to get home when normally it only takes 15 mins., but I would much rather it take me that long & complain about the traffic than to be riding down the road and it really be a bomb & go off so thank you to the man for calling it in and thank you to the Durham police department & all those who assisted.

  • SemperFi... Always Jul 2, 2010

    I must have missed something - how did someone get shot?

  • JMackneil Jul 2, 2010

    I am a Durham cop (was not there during this incident), and I applaud our chief for his support and the work in adverse conditions (angry people and hot weather) that my fellow officers had to endure.
    How dare people whine and moan! I-40 would be a great place to blow something up during rush hour. If it was a side street or on a school campus, people would 1- applaud us for our work or 2-not even notice or give a d***.
    We HAVE to follow our protocols and procedures or WE or YOU get hurt. I am going home safe. I am "so sorry" you were late for your kids' karate lesson. When it comes to a real threat, we will be ready to face it.

  • jasongreene2 Jul 2, 2010

    I agree with "irishale's" comment below...what happened with the shooting of the deputy? I know Bob Marley and Eric Clapton didn't shoot him, but who did? They shouldn't just throw that out there assuming that everyone was aware of what happened.

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