Local News

One killed, several hurt in I-85/40 wrecks near Mebane

Posted December 24, 2014 11:39 a.m. EST
Updated December 24, 2014 5:08 p.m. EST

— Several Wednesday morning crashes on eastbound Interstate 85/40 near Mebane left one person dead and sent several others to nearby hospitals, authorities said.

Mebane Fire Department firefighters were responding to a single-car crash on the rain-slick highway at about 8 a.m. when an SUV driven by Tiffany Jennings hydroplaned and slammed into the fire engine and the fire chief's car near mile marker 155, at the Orange-Alamance county line, authorities said.

Jennings, 33, of High Point, was killed, and Fire Chief Bob Louis was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was treated and released.

About two hours later, a Greyhound bus rear-ended the vehicle of Trooper D.C. Justice of the State Highway Patrol, who was part of an accident reconstruction team at the site of the earlier wreck. Troopers say Justice's Chevrolet Tahoe had its blue lights flashing and was blocking a lane to direct traffic away from the crash scene.

The collision sent the Tahoe off the shoulder of the highway into some nearby woods and sent Justice to Duke Regional Hospital with head, neck and arm injuries, including some broken bones.

"A couple of people yelled out, and boom. He hit the back of a cop car," said Benjamin Martin, who was heading from Charlotte to Wilmington to visit his mother.

Daniel Kistle, who was traveling from Atlanta to Raleigh for the holidays, said he never felt the bus slowing down before the crash.

"I don't think the driver hit the brakes at all. There was a little bit of a swerve, which probably saved the driver's life, but he smashed into the trooper pretty hard," Kistle said. "It was like there was no driver at the wheel. We were going at it full speed right into the back of a cop car."

Bus driver J.L. Robinson, who has a Georgia address, was charged with reckless driving and failure to reduce speed to avoid a collision.

About 40 people were on the bus, and 10 were treated at nearby hospitals for minor injuries.

Greyhound sent a second bus to the scene to pick up the passengers so they could continue their journeys. Kistle said he had no intention of getting on a second bus and planned to get a ride to Raleigh.

Two eastbound lanes of I-85/40 were closed until about 3:30 p.m. as troopers investigated the crashes and cleared wreckage off the highway, backing traffic up for several miles.