Three people were killed in the last 24 hours in separate incidents involving 18-wheelers on Interstate 95 near Raleigh, North Carolina.
In the first wreck, an 18-wheeler was rear-ended by an RV. The 18-wheeler was reportedly hauling corrosive chemicals. This took place around 1:45 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. North Carolina Highway Patrol officers stated that when the TV struck the rear of the truck, both vehicles ignited. An eyewitness, Sam Walter, stated that he “saw a giant flame come up then smoke.” One person was believed to be killed in the accident, though they have not been identified.
Area officials took quick action in response to the wreck and possible release of chemicals from the truck. Evacuation orders were given for Johnston Community College, Carolina Premium Outlets, and other nearby homes. Officials in Johnston County opened two shelters in local high schools to house residents within 3 miles of the crash site. 72 people sought shelter overnight. Multiple road closures were made on surrounding highways for the remainder of the day, into Thursday morning. Johnston County schools operated on a two-hour delay due to the possible chemical fumes. Town offices also delayed opening until 10 a.m. Thursday.
The County also advised hospitals, assisted-living facilities, and others to keep all of their occupants inside, and to shut all exterior vents, windows, and doors. Residents were told to not go outside, and to bring pets inside. Drivers on the highway were also forced to abandon their vehicles.
Police officials are currently looking into whether the crash was caused by distracted drivers. Emergency workers stated that instead of trying to put out the fire they would let the chemicals burn themselves out.
A separate incident also unfolded involving 18-wheelers and an RV on the same highway. 2 people were killed when an RV was rear-ended by a moving-van. The RV was reportedly stopped in the road due to incident described above. The driver of the RV subsequently lost control of the vehicle, and was struck by a second car. This car was then struck by an 18-wheeler, which propelled the car into a second 18-wheeler. The 2 deceased individuals were driving in the RV. A third person was also transported to the hospital, though it is not known which vehicle they were in, or what condition they were in.
Police have not yet finished their investigation into this incident, and have not publicly stated a cause for the wreck, or issued any citations.
Lastly, another 18 wheeler ran off the road and into a guardrail. The driver had to be extracted from the vehicle, though no injuries were reported despite the truck overturning. No other vehicles were involved in this incident. This incident occurred prior to the other two wrecks.
Though crashes such as these do not happen all the time, they happen often enough to reinforce the fact that all drivers must operate vehicles with the utmost regard for safety. This is especially important when driving at high speeds on highways, and even more so when driving near large vehicles, whether they be the 18-wheelers, RVs, or moving trucks involved here. These types of vehicles, due to their sheer mass, lack the maneuverability of regular automobiles, and are not able to stop as quickly. Our firm sees these types of wrecks often enough to know that they should not be taken lightly.