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Man charged in fatal I-40 collision released on bond

An 83-year-old woman from Durham died Sunday afternoon when police say she was hit head-on while traveling westbound on Interstate 40.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A New Jersey man charged in a fatal head-on collision that closed westbound lanes of Interstate 40 in Raleigh for several hours Sunday was released from jail early Monday after a woman bailed him out.

Brandon Lewis Jefferson, 22, is charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle. Vanesta Jefferson posted a $2,000 cash bond for his release.

Court documents show that Vanesta Jefferson and Brandon Jefferson have the same address in Budd Lake, N.J., but it's unclear how they are related. She declined to comment Monday and said Brandon Jefferson also wasn't interested in talking about the crash.

Brandon Jefferson was eastbound on I-40 Sunday afternoon when he crossed the median into the westbound lanes near the Gorman Street interchange and collided with a car driven by Catherine Obie, 83, of Durham.

Obie was killed in the wreck. Her daughter said Monday that the family was too shaken to talk.

At least five other vehicles were involved in the wreck, but no major injuries were reported.

"One shot into the air about 10 feet right in front of me. I went right under him," a man who called 911 to report the crash told a dispatcher.

Obie's and Brandon Jefferson's vehicles wound up about 200 yards apart, witnesses said. Jefferson was able to crawl out of his overturned car, they said.

According to the traffic citation, Brandon Jefferson ran off the right side of I-40, over-corrected and crossed all eastbound lanes before running off the left side of the highway and across the median.

A police officer at the scene Sunday told a WRAL News employee that Brandon Jefferson told investigators that he had fallen asleep at the wheel before the crash. Police spokesman Jim Sughrue distanced investigators from that on Monday, saying police aren't yet "in a position to comment" on the cause of the wreck.

Westbound I-40 was closed for almost five hours between Lake Wheeler Road and Gorman Street.

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