A transfer truck bumped a tractor-trailer while heading south on I-85, just north of the Highway 70 split. The transfer truck crossed the median, striking a Ford Contour head-on in the northbound lanes.
Bruce Smith and Jennifer Blakely, both of Durham, were in the car. They are in serious condition at Durham Regional Hospital.
Rush-hour traffic was snarled in both directions as Durham police shut down the interstate, diverting traffic onto Highway 70.
Police say the transfer-truck driver was distracted when he reached for his cell phone while driving through a construction zone. They hope Tuesday's accident is a warning for distracted drivers.
"There is absolutely no room for error," says Lt. Eddie Sarvis of the Durham Police Department. "If you reach for your cell phone and take your eyes off the road for just a second, you can cause a major tragedy."
TheNorth Carolina Department of Transportationis working on a $48.9 million face lift of the I-85/Highway 70 interchange, but police say a safer intersection probably could not have prevented Tuesday's accident.
Police say charges are pending against the truck driver. andEd Wilson
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