One man lost his life and two other people suffered serious injuries in a crash involving two tractor-trailers, one car and two SUVs. The deadly chain-reaction accident occurred on U.S. 17 near the town of Ernul in Craven County, North Carolina (NC), on January 6, 2016.
According to investigators, the wreck started as a rear-end collision when one of the semis failed to stop as a vehicle farther up the road waited to turn off the highway. Television station WITN described the series of resulting crashes this way: "The 18-wheeler didn't slow down and rear-ended an SUV, which then pushed a smaller vehicle into the path of an oncoming tractor trailer."
The driver of the sandwiched car was killed, and a passenger in the vehicle had to be airlifted to a trauma center in Greenville for lifesaving treatment. A woman in the SUV struck from behind involved also suffered injuries requiring hospitalization.
The man at the wheel of the big rig that started the chain reaction will be charged. News reports do not indicate what the criminal consequences will be, but one of the state troopers commented that all drivers must avoid distractions and be prepared to respond appropriately to changes in traffic flow.
Distractions for tractor-trailer operators often create fatal risks. It takes a long time to slow and stop a commercial truck weighing as much as 45 tons. A trucker who takes his eyes and mind off the road to check GPS, complete paperwork or answer a text on his smartphone can easily leave himself too little time and distance to brake when traffic slows.