1 killed in tractor-trailer accident on I-85 in Rowan County

 by GREG ARGOS / NewsChannel 36
Posted on January 18, 2012 at 5:54 AM
Updated Wednesday, Jan 18 at 10:59 AM
SALISBURY, N.C. — The North Carolina Highway Patrol has reopened two lanes of Interstate 85 south in Rowan County after one person was killed in a tractor-trailer accident Wednesday morning.

“This was not our standard accident. We don’t like to see anything like this,” said Deborah Horne, a spokesperson with the Rowan County Fire Marshal’s Office.

The highway patrol says Garry Darnell Wilkerson, a UPS Freight truck driver, crashed a double trailer near exit 79, flipping the truck over the bridge onto McCanless Road below I-85 and leaving one of the trailers dangling off the overpass.

Authorities say Wilkerson, 58, appears to have not been wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the truck when it went off the overpass. No other injuries were reported. A spokesperson for UPS Freight says his company is looking into the possibility that a front tire blowout caused the crash. That same spokesperson called Wilkerson “a veteran driver” with a clean driving record.

UPS Freight says the tractor trailers were not carrying anything hazardous. The driver was mainly transporting cigarettes from Virginia to Charlotte. The North Carolina Highway Patrol and UPS Freight confirm that some of those cigarettes may have been looted by drivers passing by the scene immediately after the crash.

“Some officers from the Sheriff’s Department assisted us by guarding the cargo because we did have some cigarettes that spilled over. Of course, we don’t want any looting obviously. At that point our job is to protect the owner of the cargo,” said Sergeant Barry Hower.

DOT crews have reopened the two right lanes on I-85, but the two left lanes remain closed as they work to clear the scene.

Troopers are advising commuters to get off of I-85 south at exit 79 and use U.S. 29 as an alternate route.

Troopers also said McCanless Road will remain closed for the rest of the day.

We thank NewsChannel 36 for their story showing what can happen in a moment on our highways. We hope everyone who reads this article sees the damage that can quickly occur and slows down. Be Safe. Get Home.

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