Troopers identify driver killed in crash that shut down I-485 for hours

By: Mark Barber

Updated:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Emergency crews had to close the outer loop of Interstate 485 early Thursday morning in east Charlotte because of a fatal multi-vehicle crash.

[PHOTOS: Deadly crash closes I-485 outer loop for hours]

State troopers said the wreck happened around 6:45 a.m. on the outer loop between Harrisburg Road and Albemarle Road.

MEDIC told Channel 9 that one person died in the crash.

Troopers said a driver traveling on the inner loop drove across the median and barreled through the cable safety fence before colliding with three vehicles on the outer loop.

"They (safety fences) are designed as a safety feature to keep vehicles in their lane of travel. Like any safety feature, it's not always 100 percent," said Trooper Ray Pierce.

The driver of the car that crossed the median, 36-year-old Robert Vermillion, was pronounced dead at the scene. Troopers said he was on his way to work when he somehow lost control of his car and crashed.

Pierce said the size of his small, mangled Toyota Scion, along with its speed and angle, let it break right through the road barrier.

"If the angle and speed are right, yes, your vehicle can come through these cable barriers,” Pierce said. “If you've seen multiple instances of vehicles breaking through these barriers, do you think we need to replace them with something concrete barriers, something that would be failsafe?' It's more of a catch 22. Anytime you've got a vehicle in motion if that vehicle is running 65 to 70, hits a concrete wall and makes a dead stop, unfortunately your body can't survive that either."

The three other drivers were injured and all taken to the hospital, but officials said they should survive.

Vermillion’s wife fell to her knees after arriving at the scene.

She told Channel 9 that her husband just celebrated his 36th birthday two days ago and was the father of two young children.

Traffic was backed up for more than seven miles in the area. Officials began reopening outer loop lanes around 9 a.m.

Troopers said they are investigating, but it could take weeks to figure out what caused the crash.

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