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Judge sets $1M bond for trucker in fatal I-40 wreck

Posted July 15, 2011

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— A judge on Friday called a truck driver charged in the deaths of three people in a fiery wreck on Interstate 40 last month "a danger to the public safety" and ordered him held under a $1 million bond.

Ronald Eugene Graybeal, 50, of Newport, Tenn., is charged with three counts of felony death by vehicle, failure to reduce speed, driving while impaired and possession of marijuana, methadone and drug paraphernalia.

Troopers said Graybeal was westbound on I-40 near U.S. Highway 15/501 on June 30 when he crashed into four vehicles, killing three of the drivers.

Ronald Graybeal in jail Judge sets $1M bond for trucker in fatal I-40 wreck

Highway Patrol investigators said Graybeal was under the influence of drugs at the time of the wreck and that he was traveling at 65 mph when he came upon a line of traffic that had just starting moving.

The chain-reaction wreck that ensued caused one vehicle to burst into flames.

Gary Dwayne Smith, 45, of Burlington, died in the burning vehicle, and John Hall Llanio, 38, of Kannapolis, and Barbara Boda Caldwell, 64, of Mebane, also were killed in the crash.

Orange County Assistant District Attorney Jeff Nieman said during a Friday afternoon court hearing that prosecutors might upgrade the charges against Graybeal to second-degree murder. He said they are still trying to sort out his previous criminal record in different states.

A search by WRAL News found that Graybeal is on the sex offender registry in Tennessee after being convicted of rape there. Records also show an aggravated burglary conviction in Tennessee, and prosecutors said they believe from an initial search that Graybeal served a little more than a year for an unspecified firearms charge in Virginia.

Defense attorney Natasha Adams requested a $250,000 bond, saying Graybeal doesn't yet face any murder charges, but District Court Judge Beverly Scarlett ordered the $1 million bond.

If he makes bond, he would have to follow several conditions set by the judge, including alcohol and drug monitoring.

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  • cubed32696 Jul 15, 2011

    RY55 You know nothing about semis. My dad drove them for years. Many times cars had cut him off and it was everything he could do to stop. TRUCKS NEED ROOM TO STOP. “If they require that much more stopping distance shouldn't that be a sign they are overloaded?” Not sure where you pulled this from. The answer NO. “If it's going to take you that much longer to stop for whatever reason, you shouldn't be going as fast, you should leave more room, make more room if cut off.” It’s amazing how you move the blame to the trucker instead of the person who cut him off. In most cases all you have to do is turn your signal on and they will let you in. But apparently to you, it’s perfectly OK for cars to cut truckers off. No trucker has a "well he ask for it if I kill em" mentality. These people are out there trying to make a living. This driver was at fault, but most drivers need to respect the truckers and the tons of metal they are driving and give them space. DO NOT CUT TRUCKERS OFF

  • cantstandya Jul 15, 2011

    How in the world does this guy have a job driving a rig,whomever he drives for should be sitting next to him in jail,background checks must mean nothing,sorry for the families.

  • affirmativediversity Jul 15, 2011

    The judge is 100% correct...if this guy was driving, especially a big rig, drunk...then he is A DANGER TO PUBLIC SAFETY!!!!

    Good call.

  • liskm Jul 15, 2011

    Actually going through Brag and MP's at the intersection and one on foot told the trucker he needed to slow down. Didn't stop him from staying on my bumper or blocking a desired lane change next few miles. I got RID of him simply by knowing an alternative route.
    Couldn't get a plate number with him breathing down my bumper or beside me. If I could, I would have reported him. I would have thought MP maybe would have made note, considering the amount of smoke coming off his tires etc.

  • liskm Jul 15, 2011

    Was in Ft. Bragg area and MP standing at the intersection. He walked up to the trucker and told him to slow it down, was all that happened. I missed a turn off because of this driver, but knew an alternative route to take.
    Nope, couldn't get plates as he stayed right on my bumper or beside me down the entire blvd. stretch until I found my escape turn that wasn't main route!
    Wish I could have, as I'd surely would have reported him!

  • 3forme Jul 15, 2011

    Did they do a blood test for they driving while impaired? Article didn't mention alcohol so i guess it had to be the pot..Not defending the guy but all those other charges are totally irrelevant to this accident and as far as the metadone goes he could have a prescription for that..Maybe fatigue and a driving too fast...Very sad for all the famalies..

  • Rebelyell55 Jul 15, 2011

    liskm,, So glad you didn't get smashed on vacation. I read alot of posting about how hard it is to stop these big rigs, yet, there is nothing about them taking responsibility to stop them when needed. If they require that much more stopping distance shouldn't that be a sign they are overloaded? It's every driver responsibiltiy to know their vechile's abilities. If it's going to take you that much longer to stop for whatever reason, you shouldn't be going as fast, you should leave more room, make more room if cut off. This mentality of "well he ask for it if I kill em" has got to go. You're not getting paid to wreck and tear up stuff. If the load is so important that you wreck and tear it up, what did ya acomplish?

  • Raditude Jul 15, 2011

    liskm - I hope you got his license number and reported him to his company, that's just creepy.

    I lived near a truck stop growing up and we saw many truckers getting high in their cabs, it was pretty easy to spot, they seemed to think that since it was in the country no one would see.

  • u stand corrected Jul 15, 2011

    If he had been drunk with alcohol, no one would be saying "he made a mistake" and imply taking it easy on him. Being on drugs, marijuana or any other, is no different than being DRUNK on alcohol! busyb97
    I agree. Alcohol is a drug too.

  • busyb97 Jul 15, 2011

    If he had been drunk with alcohol, no one would be saying "he made a mistake" and imply taking it easy on him. Being on drugs, marijuana or any other, is no different than being DRUNK on alcohol! It was a CHOICE he made knowing he was going to be driving a deadly-weapon on the highway.

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