A large rock that came off a dump truck in the North Carolina mountains is being blamed for a man's death north of Marion.
The rock went through the windshield of a car on U.S. Highway 221, striking and killing the driver.
Eyewitnesses said that rock was the size of a basketball but it weighed close to 25 pounds.
The Highway Patrol said it came off the truck heading north, hit the road once and struck a Mercedes, killing driver Douglas Mahan, who was headed in the opposite direction in McDowell County.
Investigators believe the rock came off a truck filled with rocks en route to Avery County.
"There are clearly a lot of equipment violations with this vehicle. It was a faulty vehicle and clearly shouldn't have been operated," said Sgt. Chris McClelland with the N.C. Highway Patrol.
The Highway Patrol said it was another driver who flagged down the dump truck more than a mile from where Mahan was struck and killed.
State troopers were already in the area conducting a special enforcement initiative for commercial trucks like this one along with speeders in the area. When they inspected the truck, the Highway Patrol said they found it badly rusted with gaps in the rear gates of the truck.
They are looking at whether those gaps allowed the 25-pound rock to come out and strike the Mercedes.
"It was tragic, freak. senseless. However there were clearly some violations and there was clearly some negligence out there," McClelland said.
The Highway Patrol said they cited the driver Randy Arnett with several civil citations. Once they finish their investigation, they will talk with the district attorney about possible criminal charges.