Local News

Trucker gets 11 years in prison for fatal I-40 wreck

Posted October 29, 2013

— A truck driver has been sentenced to more than 11 years in prison in connection with a fatal pile-up on Interstate 40 near Chapel Hill two years ago, authorities said.

Ronald Eugene Graybeal, 52, of Newport, Tenn., pleaded guilty to three counts of involuntary manslaughter and misdemeanor charges of possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. He initially was charged with three counts of felony death by motor vehicle.

State Highway Patrol troopers say Graybeal was westbound on I-40 near U.S. Highway 15/501 on June 30, 2011, when he crashed into a line of stopped traffic, killing three people.

An investigation determined that the four vehicles were stopped in heavy afternoon traffic and had just started to move when Graybeal's tractor-trailer hit them at 65 mph. 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.

Investigators said Graybeal was under the influence of drugs at the time of the wreck.

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  • bji Oct 30, 1:55 p.m.

    "It's awful what happened, but prison does not fix the problem."

    It doesn't but the increase in lobbying dollars for private prisons is a disturbing trend. Remember Cheney and Gonzales blocking an investigation of the mistreatment of prisoners at one of these private prisons. They are a main reason the US has more people incarcerated than any other country.

  • wildpig777 Oct 30, 11:52 a.m.

    11 yrs aint much...................

  • wiz Oct 30, 9:37 a.m.

    Guilty of 3 counts of 'Involuntary Manslaughter'. Said he was under the influence of drugs, probably weed being that was found on him or in his truck.

    First, it was an accident, hence Involuntary, do you put everyone in prison if an accident happens & someone is killed?? I could understand if it was 'Felony Death by Motor Vehicle', but 11 years for a misdemeanor?? That is over kill.

    Second, weed stays in your system for 30 days. What makes them so sure that he was feeling the effects from the drug at the time of the accident?? I think the man got a raw deal.

    My sympathies to the families involved in this. I hope you all can find some sort of comfort.

    Election time must be coming up for this Judge. Remind me to stay out of Orange Co. b/4 I get 5 years for doing 66 in a 65 zone.

  • 75Tarheel Oct 30, 9:32 a.m.

    It's awful what happened, but prison does not fix the problem. What a better form of punishment would be to just revoke his CDL and require him to pay some form of restitution to the victims families.

    Putting the man in jail just means he has nothing when he gets out and will continue to be a burden on tax payers for the rest of his life. Why should we all be punished?

    paulej

    That is short sighted and naive. He doesn't have a CDL and will never have another one. He'll be a ditch digger or other form of menial labor and will barely scrape by. He'll find a way to get on disability. So you REALLY think he can pay restitution EVER? Hardly. As for his sentence he got off light. It should have been 20-30 years. It doesn't cost me or you anymore for him to be in prison. Personally, I think he should never leave except feet first.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Oct 30, 8:42 a.m.

    paulej - "Putting the man in jail just means he has nothing when he gets out and will continue to be a burden on tax payers for the rest of his life. Why should we all be punished?"

    He probably has little to nothing now, so how will he ever pay restitution to the families of the victims. Plus, how much is a life of a loved one REALLY worth? Their value is immeasurable.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Oct 30, 8:33 a.m.

    Ghastly accident!

    Prayers for the loved ones of all involved.

  • dcatz Oct 29, 6:20 p.m.

    The road design is absolutely incompetent. I don't care what the liberals of Orange County think, the highway needs to be widened. Having 3 lanes go down to 2 lanes in such a way that produces stopped traffic is dangerous because there are always inattentive drivers on the road. 40 is always backed up there.

    I am not saying the truck driver isn't responsible (He is) but part of good road design is designing it in such a way as to minimize the potential for bad driving to rear its head.

  • Alexia Oct 29, 6:19 p.m.

    It's awful what happened, but prison does not fix the problem. What a better form of punishment would be to just revoke his CDL and require him to pay some form of restitution to the victims families.

    Putting the man in jail just means he has nothing when he gets out and will continue to be a burden on tax payers for the rest of his life. Why should we all be punished?