Local News

Southbound I-95 Reopened After Fatal Wreck

Posted August 21, 2007 6:34 a.m. EDT
Updated August 22, 2007 7:22 a.m. EDT

— Southbound lanes of Interstate 95 in Robeson County reopened Tuesday night after a fatal accident involving two tractor-trailers, authorities said.

Tony Watts, 55, of Lakeview, S.C., was speeding in a northbound tractor-trailer  when he ran into a concrete barrier in the right lane of I-95 near the U.S. Highway 74 interchange shortly after 3:30 a.m., said Sgt. Joel Siles of the state Highway Patrol. The area is in a construction zone, so concrete barriers line the shoulders on both sides of the highway.

Watts, who was hauling bundles of cardboard for Brown Trucking Co. of Lithonia, Ga., crossed the northbound lanes after overcorrecting, slammed through the concrete barrier along the median and careened into the southbound lanes, Siles said. His rig collided head-on with a tanker truck driven by Jesse Torrence, 69, of Hope Mills.

Both Watts and Torrence were pronounced dead at the scene.

Torrence was hauling 8,000 gallons of adhesive resin, used in roofing shingles, from Hexion Specialty Chemicals Inc. in Fayetteville to a plant in Aiken. S.C. He was driving for Slay Transport.

None of the resin spilled after the accident, but some of the tanker's fuel did, Stiles said. Another tanker truck was brought to the scene to pump the resin out of the overturned tanker.

Northbound lanes were reopened by 11 a.m., but highway crews had to clear the wreckage from the southbound lanes and repave a section of the highway damaged by leaking diesel fuel.

Southbound traffic was backed up for five miles on I-95 by Tuesday afternoon, and drivers said getting around the crash scene took more than three hours.

Driver Mike Anklione said he popped in a DVD to pass the time while waiting in traffic.

"I'm just talking and playing with the dog," said driver Jack Sutton, who was returning home to Myrtle Beach with his wife.

Traffic was detoured off I-95 at Exit 14 onto U.S. 74 and Hilly Branch and Chicken roads before rejoining the interstate at Exit 10.

Authorities said a small forest fire – one of dozens in Robeson County in recent weeks – created heavy smoke in the area.

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