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Clayton Man Killed; Three Others Injured In Durham Wreck

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DURHAM, N.C. — A Johnston County man was killed and three men injured Thursday in a three-vehicle accident on U.S. 15-501 South in Durham, near the N.C. 751 exit ramp.

Police said the chain-reaction crash involved two passenger cars and an SUV. Earlier reports indicated an 18-wheeler was involved.

The accident happened at 2:55 p.m. as vehicles slowed to merge into one lane due to crews cleaning up storm debris beside the highway.

A 1996 Acura driven by Nelson Lizam, which was southbound in the left lane, struck the back of a 1997 Toyota Corolla driven by Joseph C. Rhodes of Clayton that had slowed down in the left lane for traffic. The impact of the collision knocked the Corolla into the back of a 2000 Nissan Xterra driven by Liza McClellan of New Bern.

The Xterra, which had almost come to a stop in traffic, was also in the left lane. The impact caused the Corolla to spin off to the right, and then the Acura struck the Xterra.

Rhodes, 39, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Lizam and two passengers in his car - Jose Salmeron and Jose S. Lionel Medrano, both of 2920 Chapel Hill Road - were taken to Duke University Hospital for treatment of non life-threatening injuries.

McClellan was treated at the scene for minor injuries.

Charges are pending in the accident. There was no evidence of alcohol use by any of the drivers, investigators said.

The Acura and Corolla were total losses. The Xterra sustained heavy damage.

The accident slowed traffic on U.S. 15-501 for almost three hours.

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