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Amber Alert

Friday, March 21, 2008

5 tractor-trailers pile up near Wendell; 3 injured

WENDELL - A collision involving five tractor-trailer trucks caused a colossal mess and many headaches for motorists on U.S. 64/264 near Wendell on Thursday afternoon.

Three people sustained injuries that were not considered life-threatening as a result of the pileup, but eastbound traffic backed up for nearly five miles, investigating State Trooper D.C. Pate said early Thursday evening.

The wreck occurred about 3 p.m. on U.S. 64/264 near Wendell Boulevard, the Highway Patrol reported.

Two rigs that were each hauling another rig had come to a stop in traffic when they were rear-ended by another tractor-trailer flatbed hauling steel beams.

"It was a mess," Pate said.

Three of the rigs that were hit sustained a total of about $20,000 in damage, and the impact caused diesel fuel to leak onto the roadway. Emergency workers quickly contained the spilled fuel, and none of the vehicles were carrying hazardous materials, Pate said.

The steel beams on the tractor-trailer flatbed shook loose during the wreck and crashed into the cab of the truck, causing about $30,000 to $40,000 in damage, the patrol reported.

The four rigs were headed to White's International Trucks in Wilson, where they were to be sold. The tractor-trailer that troopers say caused the accident is owned by Watkins Trucking Co. of Birmingham, Ala., Pate said.

The driver of that tractor-trailer and his wife, Milton Lewis, 51, and Cathy Lewis, 38, were both taken to WakeMed's Raleigh Campus. Emergency workers also took one of the rig drivers, Marvin Krohn, 59, of Sylvania, Ohio, to the hospital, Pate said.

Milton Lewis was charged with failure to reduce speed, Pate said.