Tractor-trailer overturns on U.S. 321 near Lenoir, kills one
A tractor-trailer lost its brakes while coming down the mountain on U.S. 321, overturned at high speed and skidded on its side into oncoming traffic Wednesday morning on U.S. 321. A Hickory man was killed in the wreck, and the highway was blocked to traffic for much of the day.
Shortly before 10 a.m. about 10 miles north of Lenoir near Richland Road, the tractor-trailer traveling south on U.S. 321 skidded into the northbound lanes and struck a box truck and a Jeep traveling north, said Trooper M.T. Stutts of the N.C. Highway Patrol.
The driver of the box truck, Michael Allen Ray, 41, of Hickory, died in the wreck, and a passenger, John Little Jr. of Hildebran, was taken to Caldwell Memorial Hospital, but his condition was not known at press time. The driver of the tractor-trailer, Jason Jamaal Rogers, 35, of Charlotte, was also transported to Caldwell Memorial, where he was treated and released. The driver of the Jeep was not injured.
Stutts said the tractor-trailer, which was carrying a load of yarn, was traveling at an excessive speed before overturning. Charges are pending.
The way the trucks lay at the scene of the crash conveyed the force of the wreck. The cab of the tractor-trailer was crushed on the passenger side, embedded in the grassy bank where the sliding truck finally came to rest, at the end of a long, white skid mark down the highway. The entire box portion of the box truck, loaded with musical equipment, was knocked off and thrown about 100 feet from the guardrail into the woods area. A grass fire started alongside the highway and scorched the ground near the box truck.
Traffic in both directions was diverted away from U.S. 321 for hours, and southbound traffic was being diverted until late in the day.