Local News

Driver Faces Charges After Fatal I-85 Crash

Posted February 16, 2007 11:33 a.m. EST
Updated February 17, 2007 4:24 p.m. EST

— Both lanes of southbound Interstate 85 near the Durham-Granville county line were closed for about eight hours Friday after a fatal accident involving three tractor-trailers.

Traffic was backed up for miles as crews worked to clear the accident, which happened shortly before 10 a.m. The roadway reopened at about 6:30 p.m.

Virgil Harris, 52, of Ahoskie and Chryss Oko, 40, of Texas were killed in the crash. Two other people were injured.

Authorities believe two of the vehicles were sitting along the shoulder of southbound I-85 near mile marker 186 in Butner when the third vehicle, operated by Xaujie Warner, struck them, causing an explosion.

Warner, of Houston, Texas, told investigators she lost control of the vehicle and ran off the road. North Carolina Highway Patrol officials said late Friday that Warner appeared sleepy and drowsy at the time of the accident.

Warner was charged with two counts misdemeanor death by motor vehicle after she was released from Duke University Hospital Friday afternoon.

Oko was a passenger in Warner's  vehicle, and Harris was one of the drivers of the parked tractor-trailers, the Highway Patrol said. The driver of the second tractor-trailer, who was not inside the truck when it crashed, was also taken to Duke University Hospital. His condition has not been released.

Witnesses also said several drivers, including a doctor from Georgetown University Medical Center, stopped to assist those involved in the accident.

Trucker Chris Lane pulled Warner from her burning cab. He said he's grateful for the one he saved but grieves for the others he couldn't.

"There's a lot of us drivers out here with families," Lane said. "I'm sure they had family. I hate (Warner) lost her boyfriend, but I guess God's got a plan for everybody."

Hazmat crews determined that there were not any hazardous materials aboard the tractor-trailers. Traffic was diverted to U.S. Highway 15 for over 10 hours while crews cleared the scene.