NEWTON GROVE, N.C. — Three people were killed Tuesday afternoon in a wreck on Interstate 40 in Sampson County that forced authorities to shut down both westbound lanes.
Patsy Gilbert Johnson, 59, Janice Marie Johnson, 29, and Aaron Scott Littlejohn, 2, all of Clayton, were killed when Patsy Johnson lost control of a GMC Envoy after running off the left side of the road and overcorrecting, authorities said.
The victims were related. Janice Johnson was the mother of Littlejohn and the daughter of Patsy Johnson.
The accident happened at about 2:30 p.m. near Exit 341, which is near the Sampson-Johnston county line.
The Envoy flipped several times before coming to a stop, and the passengers were ejected, authorities said.
Patsy Johnson was wearing her seatbelt; Janice Johnson was unrestrained; and troopers are investigating whether the child was properly restrained.
The wreck is still under investigation.
The accident spread wreckage across the highway, and the entire rear axle was off the vehicle. Investigators were trying to determine if a vehicle defect played a role in the wreck.
A second accident happened in the same area shortly afterward when a Nissan Maxima rear-ended a Chevrolet Trailblazer on eastbound I-40, authorities said.
The driver of the Maxima was taken to an area hospital. The person's condition was unknown Tuesday evening.
Authorities said the second accident might have been caused be cause the drivers were looking at the aftermath of the first wreck and were distracted.
Westbound traffic was detoured as crews worked to clear the scene. Eastbound traffic was reduced to one lane much of Tuesday afternoon, but both lanes had been reopened by 6 p.m. Westbound I-40 reopened later Tuesday evening.