Local News

I-40 Crash Cost Thousands: Who Should Pay?

Posted August 3, 2007 10:55 p.m. EDT
Updated August 4, 2007 10:04 a.m. EDT

— One week after a fatal crash shut down Interstate 40 in Wake County, charges are pending against one of the drivers.

One person was killed and five others were injured.

The clean-up costs were in the thousands, officials said. But who should pay the bill? Department of Transportation officials said they want to make sure it’s not the taxpayers.

Troopers say Robert Klimczak's truck started the chain of events that led to the massive crash on July 27. Investigators say Klimczak's pickup truck hit another pickup truck, which collided with a tractor-trailer that crashed through the median, struck other vehicles and burned.

Klimczak was driving with a suspended license, according to state troopers.

“One of the scenarios may have been a blown tire. One of the scenarios might be a lane-change violation,” said 1st Sgt. S.D. Greene. “All the information was gathered by [the reconstruction unit] and the investigating trooper, and it was presented to the district attorney. He’ll review the information that he’s gathered and go from there as far as charges.”

The crash left state transportation crews with a costly repair job.

“It comes out to about $35,000. That’s for pavement, guardrails, traffic control and labor,” said DOT spokesman Ernie Seneca. “It’s taxpayers’ money, and there were damages out there, and we’re trying to recoup.”

State DOT officials said they want the person responsible for the accident to pay. The DOT is well within its rights to try to recoup that money, according to an attorney who spoke with WRAL.

“If he’s found to be negligent or reckless, the applicable standard would be he could be liable for damages,” said attorney John Cargill.

WRAL has learned that Klimczak hired an attorney. His family said there was some type of mix-up concerning his driver’s license.

The DOT plans to review the accident report. If charges are filed, the first step in recouping the money is to send a letter to Klimczak and his insurance company.