Local News

Driver charged in triple fatal I-40 crash

Posted July 1, 2011
Updated July 2, 2011

— A tractor-trailer driver faces multiple charges, including driving while impaired and possession of drugs, in Thursday's crash that killed three people on Interstate 40.

Ronald Eugene Graybeal, 50, of Newport, Tenn., is being held in the Durham County jail under a $500,000 bond.

He is charged with felony death by vehicle, two counts of misdemeanor death by vehicle, DWI, possession of marijuana, methadone and drug paraphernalia.

Alcohol was not involved, according to authorities, who said Graybeal was charged with DWI because he had drugs in his system.

Troopers say Graybeal was driving west on I-40 near U.S. Highway 15/501 when he crashed into four vehicles, killing three of the drivers.

He first crashed into the back of a Ford F-250 truck driven by John Hall Llanio, 38, of Kannapolis, and then a Chevy Equinox driven by Barbara Boda Caldwell, 64, of Mebane, troopers said.

His tractor-trailer then hit a passenger vehicle driven by Gary Dwayne Smith, 45, of Burlington. The vehicle's make and model couldn't be identified because it was badly burned, authorities said.

Llanio, Caldwell and Smith all died in the crash.

Graybeal is also accused of crashing into a box truck driven by Reginald Keith Thompson, 49, of Greensboro, who suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was treated at Duke University Hospital and released.

Graybeal was driving for Hawley Transport based in Newport, Tenn.

Hawley Transport has two crashes in the past two years, including one with an injury or fatality.

The company has a record of problems with driver fatigue, but have not had violations for alcohol or substance abuse, according to records with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The company scored 81.4 percent for driver fatigue, which means it has a worse record for that problem than that percentage of other trucking companies on the road. That score means that the company has been made a priority for roadside inspections.

Hawley Transport also scored 31.1 percent in unsafe driving and 52.6 percent in vehicle maintenance.

Driver charged in fatal I-40 crash Son remembers dad killed in I-40 wreck

I-85 crash victims identified

Meanwhile, authorities on Friday released the names of those involved in two crashes that shut down Interstate 85 for about five hours Thursday.

Steven Craig Thompson, 42, of Garner, was speeding when he lost control of his tractor-trailer and overturned near mile marker 165, troopers said. The tractor-trailer belongs to D.H. Griffin Wrecking Company in Greensboro.

Thompson was treated at UNC Hospitals for non-life-threatening injuries and was charged with exceeding the posted speed limit. Investigators did not say how fast he was traveling.

After Thompson's crash, traffic slowed to a standstill back to mile marker 164, where another crash happened that killed a 44-year-old truck driver.

More than 40 people on the roadway after the crash called 911.

Speeding blamed for I-85 crash Speeding blamed for I-85 crash

"I was in front of it," one caller said. "I was past what happened, and I looked in my rear-view mirror and saw it sliding down the road sideways, and it tipped over."

"It looks like maybe a tractor-trailer or someone got turned," another caller said. "Debris was flying everywhere – and flames and smoke."

Billy Dean Brady Jr., of Kings Mountain, died after he failed to slow down for the traffic and crashed into a tanker truck, causing his tractor-trailer to burst into flames. Brady's truck belonged to Truck Services in Forest City.

The tanker truck, driven by Roland Hayes Redmon, then crashed into two vehicles – a Mazda Protege driven by Vivian Okelo, 23, of Raleigh, and a Ford Crown Victoria driven by Tanogia Angelique Torres, 35, of Efland.

Okelo and Torres were both in fair condition Friday at UNC Hospitals. A 7-year-old girl was also injured in the crash. She was in good condition Friday.

271 Comments

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  • Dogs_Rules Jul 1, 7:59 p.m.

    "Had he not been impaired, maybe he would have reacted differently and thus avoided an accident."

    It seems to me that if the F250 had not hit the SUV, it would not have been in the path of the Freightliner. I say again, I noticed that the Freightliner did not jack-knife, that tells me that the dirver maintained control of his rig until he stopped. It takes an 80,000 lb tractor-trailer traveling at 60 mph 300 feet to stop. The length of a football field. A good thing to know next time you people want to pass an 18 wheeler and then turn right.

  • Nancy Jul 1, 7:53 p.m.

    "Unfortunately whether the driver of the semi was as fault, he was impaired. Had he not been impaired, maybe he would have reacted differently and thus avoided an accident."

    How does one avoid an accident with no reaction time, a truck crosses into your lane and even the best driver can't stop in time, with no distance to do so.

  • Dogs_Rules Jul 1, 7:51 p.m.

    "get the facts.....who ever caused this deadly accident needs to be taken off the road."

    Absolutely, and treat them as if they walked through a mall with a handgun shooting indiscriminately, the results are the same.

  • jody4663 Jul 1, 7:45 p.m.

    If it were your loved one who was involved in this terrible tragedy would you be so quick to back up a man who was in control of a semi while impaired? People rear-end each other
    bjdeal751

    So very sorry for your loss. Unfortunately whether the driver of the semi was as fault, he was impaired. Had he not been impaired, maybe he would have reacted differently and thus avoided an accident.

  • Dogs_Rules Jul 1, 7:37 p.m.

    "Yeah, all the comments about how they trust "professional" truck drivers because they drive for a living are eating their words just like I said before this came out. If you drive enough, you see truckers are as bad if not worst than most passenger vehicles on the road. 50K miles a year, I see a lot of this."

    Everyone should have to pass the same driving test as Commercial Drivers. There would be a lot less fatalities and a lot less drivers on the road and we have to take ours in a tractor-trailer. I took mine in a KW W900L with a 53 foot trailer. If we hit a curb or a yellow stripe with our trailer tires we fail. If we turn into the path of another vehicle and the examiner feels that we impeded the other vehicle, we fail. Floating gears instead of double-clutching, we lose points. Change lanes without proper clearance (once again, the examiner’s opinion), we fail. I’ve put a lot more miles behind me than most people, driving an 18 wheeler has convinced me that some people just

  • rescuefan Jul 1, 7:31 p.m.

    "It seems to me if the driver of the F250 rear-ended the SUV and then veered into the path of the Freightliner, the driver of the F250 should be charged with the deaths. The cause of the fatalities would have to rest solely on the driver of the F250. Yes, charge the trucker with possesion and DWI/DUI (if he was under the influence), but don't lay the blame on him. Who knows, he may have handled his rig as well as the rest of us and prevented even more deaths. Notice that he did not jack-knife his rig.
    Dogs_Rules"

    Well, it would be hard to charge the driver of the F-250 since he died a pretty violent death yesterday. If the eyewitness is correct, he is the one who caused the chain reaction, but he's already paid with his life.

    I do believe the semi driver needs to be charged with the DWI, but unless it's proven he actually caused the wreck, I don't think he should be charged with the deaths of the other drivers. Just my opinion.

  • bjdeal751 Jul 1, 7:29 p.m.

    Does it really honestly matter who was at fault in a time like this? Three people lost their lives in a horrible accident. I am a family friend of the driver of the F250 who some of you keep jumping to accuse when no one truly knows how the accident unfolded. Let me ask you this.. if a cop gets out to help an accident and he is hit and killed who is charged and who is at fault? The person who killed the cop. Not the driver in the first accident. John was a wonderful friend, a loving father and husband, and an all around great person. So instead of worrying about whether he was at fault, why dont you try and pay a little respect to his family in their time of grieving. I'm sure they need all the prayers they can get. After all, 3 people lost their lives, and face it or not but... the truck driver was impaired. If it were your loved one who was involved in this terrible tragedy would you be so quick to back up a man who was in control of a semi while impaired? People rear-end each other

  • Nancy Jul 1, 7:22 p.m.

    "he may have handled his rig as well as the rest of us and prevented even more deaths. Notice that he did not jack-knife his rig."

    My thoughts exactly, had he jerked left or right, he would have either jack knifed or caused the trailer to sway violently and hit more cars.

    Think of a deer jumping out in front of your car, no reaction time to speak of. You hit the deer and brake hard but straight. If there was a car beside you, you spared them by not jerking the wheel.

  • awheeless Jul 1, 7:15 p.m.

    get the facts.....who ever caused this deadly accident needs to be taken off the road.

  • Dogs_Rules Jul 1, 7:15 p.m.

    It seems to me if the driver of the F250 rear-ended the SUV and then veered into the path of the Freightliner, the driver of the F250 should be charged with the deaths. The cause of the fatalities would have to rest solely on the driver of the F250. Yes, charge the trucker with possesion and DWI/DUI (if he was under the influence), but don't lay the blame on him. Who knows, he may have handled his rig as well as the rest of us and prevented even more deaths. Notice that he did not jack-knife his rig.

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