Fatal wreck closes highway
The driver of the tractor-trailer, hauling 30,000 pounds of yarn, told officers he lost braking ability before the tractor-trailer overturned near Richland Road, about six miles south of the Green Park Inn, according to Trooper M.T. Stutts of the N.C. Highway Patrol.
After overturning, the tractor-trailer slid into a box truck and a Jeep headed north, pushing the box truck into the guardrail.
“He was completely on his side, sliding, when the collision occurred,” Stutts said.
The driver of the box truck, 41-year-old Michael Allen Ray of Hickory, died at the scene, Stutts said.
His passenger, John Little Jr. of Hildebran, was treated and released from Caldwell Memorial Hospital.
The men were shuttling audio equipment to Boone for a concert at Legends, Stutts said.
The driver of the Jeep, 71-year-old Victoria Rabb of Lenoir, went to the hospital on her own later, Stutts said. No passengers were in the Jeep.
Stutts said the N.C. Highway Patrol’s Motor Carrier Enforcement unit is inspecting the tractor-trailer today and continuing to investigate. He said he was not sure what speed the tractor-trailer was moving before it crashed.
Charges are pending against the driver, 35-year-old Jason Jamaal Rogers of Charlotte, he said. Rogers was also taken to Caldwell Memorial Hospital.
The wreck sparked a small fire on the east shoulder of the highway.
U.S. 321 was closed in both directions for most of the day after the 11 a.m. accident, eventually reopening one lane Wednesday night.