Local News

Driver Charged in Wreck That Closed Capital Boulevard

Posted November 29, 2007 2:07 p.m. EST
Updated November 29, 2007 10:50 p.m. EST

— A wreck shut down both sides of Capital Boulevard for nearly seven hours and sent five people to the hospital on Thursday.

Gerardo Alexander Hernandez, 32, of 1505 Huntdell Main Drive, in Wendell, was driving a dump truck southbound on Capital around 1:30 p.m. Witnesses said Hernandez was in the right-turn-only lane at the intersection with New Hope Church/Buffaloe Road and ran a red light.

The dump truck collided with a pickup driven by Enrique Galicia, 33, of Raleigh, who was turning left onto Capital.

Hernandez did not try to brake before the accident, police said. The vehicles traveled more than 80 feet before coming to a halt.

The dump truck slammed into a power pole, snapping it off and causing a chain reaction that pulled down three other power poles. That brought down traffic lights and power lines into the intersection.

The falling poles and debris damaged a Ford sedan and Jeep Cherokee stopped at the intersection.

Hernandez, Galicia, two passengers in the pickup truck and the driver of the Ford were taken to WakeMed with non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

Police charged Hernandez with running a red light and careless and reckless driving. Hernandez holds a commercial drivers' license from the state of New York.

Seven customers were left without power after the accident, but Progress Energy crews restored power and repaired traffic lights by 8:30 p.m. All north- and southbound lanes of Capital were also reopened by then.

Traffic was rerouted around the accident scene, causing heavy, miles-long back-ups. Some drivers said it took them 45 minutes to inch forward a quarter of a mile.

"I was wondering what's going on, because I'm late for my part-time job at Babys 'R Us," driver Willis Smith said.

No traffic on Capital meant no traffic in the parking lot of a nearby shopping center. The shops and restaurants did not lose power, but they did lose business. One restaurant closed early, wiping out the dinner crowd.