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Good Samaritan seriously injured in I-40 wreck

Posted March 19, 2010

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— A man who stopped to help after a wreck on Interstate 40 was seriously injured when another vehicle hit him Friday morning, Durham police said.

The first wreck, which occurred around 4 a.m., involved a car and a truck in the left lanes of I-40 East, near the exit to Interstate 540, at the Durham-Wake county line.

According to witnesses, a man stopped his WCA Waste Corporation truck and got out. WCA representatives identified the man as Chris Crowell. As he walked along the highway, driver June Howard hit him.

"He had parked his truck and was going to run back there and check on them. All of a sudden, I see him in front of me," Howard said. 

Howard said he swerved but could not avoid hitting Crowell, who was struck by the vehicle's side-view mirror and fender.

WRAL producer Carol Watson, who was driving behind Howard and also stopped, said Crowell told her that he was walking on the side of the interstate toward the first wreck.

"He told me he was going to check on that wreck to see if anybody needed him to call 911," she said.

Police said Crowell underwent surgery at Duke University Hospital for injuries that included a broken leg and severe internal bleeding. Hospital officials said Crowell was in critical condition Friday afternoon.

Another person was injured in the initial collision. The unidentified person, whose injuries authorities described as non-life-threatening, was taken to an area hospital.

Police reconstructed the wrecks Friday but have not decided whether to file charges.

Howard expressed remorse and conveyed his prayers that Crowell would pull through. 

"As soon as I could park ... I ran back to see him," Howard said. "I feel bad, sure I do. Anybody would that hurt somebody."

"He is a nice young man and was trying to help somebody else," Watson said.

In the past decade, 73 collisions involving people who had stopped to help after a wreck occurred in North Carolina, and 21 of those good Samaritans were killed, according to the state Department of Transportation.

State troopers said no law requires people to stop if they were not involved in a wreck, but most people will experience an instinct to help.

"You don't think about it," Watson said.

Troopers urged people who stop to help after a wreck to be careful.

"The No. 1 thing when you do arrive on the scene is safety for yourself, and then provide assistance if it can be done safely without injuring yourself or others," Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Jeff Gordon said.

"Just be cautious, and just kind of stop and think and take a deep breath before you act."

67 Comments

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  • leo-nc Mar 19, 2010

    "ANOTHER case of someone that would rather run someone down, than to SLOW DOWN!!!"---

    And what is your reasoning behind this statement in this particular situation? Where was the pedestrian in reference to the vehicle that struck him? what speed was the vehicle traveling? What kind of clothing was the pedestrian wearing? How visible was the pedestrian? I await your answer.... I want to see if you're accurate or not.

  • keeprightexcepttopass Mar 19, 2010

    "You're right. We don't know what happened yet. My point is that the driver surely saw the vehicles pulled over on the left. It seems reasonable that there’s not a lot of traffic at 4AM, so he could give some room, get out of the left lane for 3 seconds...like you’re supposed to do for emergency vehicles. And, is slowing down, too much to ask? Yes, I think many I-40 drivers are selfish maniacs who won’t change their driving for anyone. ;-)"

    hereandnow: Where in the article does it say the good samaritan was also parked in the left lanes? It is highly possible he pulled over on the right side, since there is more room there and was possibly trying to cross the interstate. Maybe, possibly, Mr. Howard was indeed observant of the accident on the left and merged over to the right lanes to pass safely and that's when he may have hit the samaritan. This is just absolutely ridiculous how so many people on here seem to know ALL the facts. Geesh!!!

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Mar 19, 2010

    wiseowl, thanks for the correction on gender. June is a guy...whodathunk? :-)

    You're right. We don't know what happened yet. My point is that the driver surely saw the vehicles pulled over on the left. It seems reasonable that there’s not a lot of traffic at 4AM, so he could give some room, get out of the left lane for 3 seconds...like you’re supposed to do for emergency vehicles. And, is slowing down, too much to ask? Yes, I think many I-40 drivers are selfish maniacs who won’t change their driving for anyone. ;-)

  • johnnyboy Mar 19, 2010

    ANOTHER case of someone that would rather run someone down, than to SLOW DOWN!!! Is it worth someone else's life??? Why don't folks THINK about things like that???

  • leo-nc Mar 19, 2010

    "hope he is ok.the driver that hit him should be made to pay dearly.If the man is disabled I hope he gets all he can get"--alwayslovingyou30

    Really? Why would you make such a ridiculous statement when you know NOTHING about the investigation or who's at fault for this accident? Do you have some kind of magical power that the rest of us don't have? Good lord people. Think logically and quit letting your emotions get the best of you. That is the most ridiculous post I've read all day long.

  • itsmyownopinion Mar 19, 2010

    In checking out all the photos of this accident on ABC11, it appears to be a construction area, and that makes it a more dangerous stretch of road. I was T-boned once on Capital Blvd., and the guy ran, and no one helped me, not even RPD. I wasn't injured, but my vehicle was.

  • gingerlynn Mar 19, 2010

    Pyrointhesky - no one is asking his legal status because he actually stopped to help and did not FLEE. My car was hit on I40 a couple of years ago. The driver FLED not caring about my damages or injuries and even the highway patrol admitted after getting a description from witnesses that he wa probably fleeing to avoid arrest and deportation. Thank you Mr Howard for caring enough to stop and check on him!

  • keeprightexcepttopass Mar 19, 2010

    Wow, I'm confused as to why everyone is harping on the driver so much. It was dark. A fresh accident scene. Speed limit is 65 so even approaching the scene, slowing down wouldn't exactly be to a crawl (because if you slow down that much, then you ARE rubbernecking). We have no idea what the good samaritan was wearing (could've been dark clothing). They showed the driver on the news and he felt just horrible about it. And, in my opinion, seeing his is an older gentleman, I seriously doubt his was 'texting' while driving, as a few of you speculated. Accidents happen. Point blank, cars and pedestrians on interstates just don't mix. Period. Do as others on here have said. Leave it to the professionals and call 911.

  • itsmyownopinion Mar 19, 2010

    Quote from updated article: "Police said he underwent surgery at Duke University Medical Center for injuries including a broken leg and severe internal bleeding. Hospital officials said Crowell was in critical condition Friday afternoon."

    I hope he completely recovers. He risked his life to help someone, maybe/probably a stranger.

  • ezLikeSundayMorning Mar 19, 2010

    I realize people just want everyone to be safe when they suggest not getting out of your car to help at an accident scene, but is that really the kind of world you want to live in?

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