Local News

Troopers: Wrong-way driver causes I-95 wreck

Posted August 5, 2011 3:45 p.m. EDT
Updated August 5, 2011 6:52 p.m. EDT

— A wrong-way driver caused a wreck involving a tractor-trailer that closed Interstate 95 South near the Harnett-Johnston county line Friday afternoon, state troopers said.

James Charles Godwin, 36, of Harnett County, drove a white car the wrong way on an exit ramp and started going north on I-95 South shortly before 3 p.m., troopers said. The car struck a tractor-trailer at Exit 77 to Hodges Chapel Road, south of Benson.

Godwin was flown to Duke University Hospital in Durham, where he was in critical condition, troopers said. He had traumatic injuries to the lower half of his body.

The truck driver, Richard Pearsall, was treated for injuries at Betsy Johnson Regional Hospital in Dunn. Troopers said he was doing very well.

Pearsall drove for Bulldog Highway Express and is based in Charleston, S.C.

Troopers said Godwin did not appear to be impaired and there's no indication that alcohol and drugs were a factor.

Troopers didn't expect to file charges before finishing an investigation, which could take up to two weeks. They said investigators planned to talk to Godwin's family and friends to determine what might have caused him to drive the wrong way on the interstate.

All southbound lanes of I-95 were closed and traffic detoured through Dunn for about two hours after the wreck. At one point, southbound traffic backed up for about eight miles, as far as Four Oaks, and northbound traffic for about two miles.

The wreck also spilled oil onto the interstate, which crews cleaned up.