Big Rig Trucker Involved in North Carolina Truck Accident that Killed Three on Interstate 40 Was Drunk, Say Investigators

January 10, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

A deadly North Carolina tractor-trailer crash on I-40 on June 30 that claimed the lives of three people has landed the trucker in a lot of trouble. Police have charged Ronald Eugene Graybeal with two counts of felony death by vehicle, one count misdemeanor death by vehicle, DWI, and drug possession.

The Durham, North Carolina big rig crash happened at around 4pm just west of the US 15-501 exit when Graybeal crashed into three autos that were in slow traffic. All three drivers—Burlington resident Gary Dwayne Smith, Mebane resident Barbara Boda Caldwell, and Kannapolis local John Paul Llanio died from their injuries. A box truck driver, Greensboro native Reginald Keith Thompson, was also hurt when Graybeal’s vehicle struck him, but fortunately his injuries are non-life-threatening.

The charges against Graybeal are very serious and could land him in jail for a very long time if he is convicted. He and the trucking company he works for could also find themselves the defendant of North Carolina wrongful death cases if the family members of the three people that died decide to sue them. Any civil charges would be separate from the criminal ones and it will be up to the plaintiffs and their North Carolina semi-truck crash lawyers to prove liability.

The North Carolina truck crash is also raising questions from drivers who worry that this section of I-40, which is near the Durham-Orange County, is currently a higher risk crash zone. One of the lanes has been closed, causing the highway to go from three lanes to two close to the US Highway 15/501 (where the accident happened). Because of this, some motorists say that when traffic slows suddenly there isn’t enough of a warning to ensure that everyone has time to react safely to the sudden traffic jams that can arise.

The DOT is looking into whether better warning signs should be added or a revised speed limit put into effect. If there is evidence that the stretch of road where the Durham tractor-trailer collision happened could have and should have been made safer, the victims’ families also may have a case against the entities responsible for the road.

Scene of I-40 triple fatal wreck worries drivers, WRAL, July 7, 2011

Charge upgraded in triple fatal I-40 crash, WRAL, July 5, 2011

Trucker in I-40 triple fatal jailed on DWI charge, ABC Local, July 2, 2011

Related Web Resources:
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

North Carolina Department of Transportation

More Blog Posts:

North Carolina Truck Accident Claims: Is True Total Compensation Possible?, North Carolina Car Accident Lawyer Blog, June 21, 2011

North Carolina Truck Accidents: Getting Past the Anger, North Carolina Car Accident Lawyer Blog, June 8, 2011

Goldsboro Driver Sustains Burn Injuries in Fayetteville, North Carolina Truck Crash, North Carolina Car Accident Lawyer Blog, October 23, 2009


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