First Posted: 10/6/2009
Clean-up is still under way from an accident on Interstate 77 Monday afternoon.
A tractor-trailer collided with a North Carolina Department of Transportation vehicle in the northbound lane of the interstate at the 96-mile marker around 12:40 p.m. on Monday.
According to Trooper E.V. Tate with the NC Highway Patrol, David Lee Meredith, 57, of Winston-Salem, allegedly fell asleep at the wheel of the 18-wheeler prior to the crash. The impact caused the cab of the vehicle to catch fire but Meredith was able to bring the tractor-trailer to a stop before exiting with minor injuries to his lower extremities, according to John Shelton, Surry County emergency services director.
He brought the tractor and trailer to a controlled rest. Once it caught fire, it got so hot it melted the guard rail, said Tate.
About 100 gallons of diesel fuel from the truck leaked from the tank and down into the Fisher River. A hazardous materials team called to the scene was able to put absorbent booms into the river to soak up the fuel and an environment clean-up team arrived on the scene Tuesday.
It wont be finished until tomorrow late afternoon. They have to remove some of the soil along the bank and the booms that were used, said Shelton of the clean-up process.
Jimmy Grey Coalson, 58, of Lowgap, was sitting in the DOT truck at the time of the accident as his partner worked to clean up debris on the shoulder of the road. According to Shelton, the worker was forced to jump out of the path of the tractor-trailer to avoid injury.
Meredith, who was transporting a trailer full of textiles from a Sarah Lee facility in Kings Mountain, has been charged with careless and reckless driving, according to Tate.
Traffic was halted in the northbound lane for a time and continued to progress slowly for much of the afternoon due to the crash and clean-up efforts.