Numerous wrecks have occurred in the five-mile stretch sincework on the safety-improvement project began in August. Friday'scrash was the first to claim lives. Guy Edward Herring, 42, ofMarion, S.C., and Dennis Smith, 47, of Turkey, were killed in thecrash, said Carolyn Eley of the Highway Patrol.
Although police have blamed previous wrecks on the narrow lanesand constrictive concrete barriers of the work zone, they said it'stoo soon to tell whether the work zone was a factor in theaccident.
The eight-vehicle wreck occurred about 5:10 p.m. between theN.C. 72 and Carthage Road exits in Lumberton, said Highway Patrolspokesperson Sara Kempin.
A pick-up truck driven by Herring was towing a Ford Explorer inthe southbound lane. He apparently lost control, crossed the medianand hit a northbound tractor-trailer driven by Smith head-on,Kempin said.
Both vehicles burst into flames on impact, she said.
The impact caused the Explorer to break loose from the pick-up.The Explorer skidded past the initial collision and tumbled downthe highway like a boulder, hitting four other cars in thenorthbound lane, Kempin said. A van following the Lundy Packing Co.tractor-trailer in the northbound lane rear-ended the trailer,which was empty, she said.
The injured victims were taken to Southeastern General Hospitalin Lumberton, Kempin said.
Doug Brown, of Jacksonville, was a passenger in thetractor-trailer. He was transferred to the burn center at UNCHospitals in Chapel Hill Friday night, Kempin said. Antonio Hayes,of Fort Bragg, was in a Chevy Cavalier that was crushed by therunaway Explorer. He was transferred to Duke Hospitals Fridaynight, Kempin said.
Both men were listed in critical condition late Friday.
Terri and Keith Rose, of Saint Pauls, were also in one of thecars hit by the Explorer. They were being treated at Southeasternfor non-life-threatening injuries, Kempin said.
The crash backed up traffic for more than six miles, Kempinsaid.
The southbound lanes of the interstate were re-opened about7:45p.m., said Kempin. The northbound lanes were re-opened about 9:30p.m., she said.
Copyright ©1998 AssociatedPress. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast,rewritten, or distributed.
From Staff and Wire Reports
Copyright 2023 by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.