One killed, three injured in wrecks on I-85 South in Durham

Posted August 25, 2010 5:39 p.m. EDT
Updated August 26, 2010 9:58 a.m. EDT

— One person was killed and three others were injured Wednesday evening in two related traffic accidents on Interstate 85 South near the Roxboro Road exit in Durham, police said.

The accidents shut down I-85 South for approximately three hours.

The first accident occurred at 5:12 p.m., when a tractor-trailer driven by Lawrence Dixon Jr., 58, of McComb, Miss., apparently attempted to change lanes and clipped a southbound 2003 Jaguar driven by Dwight Edward Mason, 53, of Durham, police said. The Jaguar then spun into the right side of a 1995 Chevrolet van driven by Jason Elijah Tabares, 29, of Hillsborough.

Following the wreck, the tractor-trailer stopped in the second lane from the left on the highway, and a 1996 Chevrolet Lumina driven by Betty Ellis Stephenson, 63, of Durham, hit the back of the unoccupied truck, police said.

A passenger in the Lumina, Michelle Leigh Smith, 35, of Durham, was airlifted to Duke University Hospital, where she died Wednesday night.

Stephenson was taken to Duke for treatment of serious injuries. Mason and a passenger in his vehicle, Sallie Diane Mason, 47, of Durham, were treated at Durham Regional Hospital and released.

Dixon, Tabares and a passenger in his van, Vernon Antionne Pratt, 28, of Durham, weren't injured.

No charges had been filed in the case as of Thursday morning, but police said it remains under investigation.