• Impaired driver caused I-485 wreck that sent 5 to hospital, troopers say

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Troopers said an impaired driver caused the two-vehicle wreck on Interstate 485 that sent five people to the hospital early Tuesday morning.

    According to officials, Allen Blankenship was impaired and speeding when he rear-ended an SUV around 3 a.m. near Oakdale Road.

    [TRAFFIC ALERT: Project to improve bridges along I-277 forces detour in west Charlotte]

    Eyewitness News reporter Gina Esposito said one car crashed into the woods and the other flipped in the median.

    Officials said several lanes on the outer loop of I-485 were blocked as crews worked intensively to rescue the victims who were ejected from their vehicle. 

    Channel 9 was there as multiple emergency responders maneuvered through the trees and cut part of a fence to reach some of the victims.

    [Troopers: Speed, ice on roadway caused serious 3-car crash on I-485 in NW Charlotte]

    Crews used stretchers to carry five people out of the woods to the ambulance.

    Tow trucks arrived at the scene shortly after the crash to clear the roadway and pull a vehicle out of the woods. The windshield of one of the cars involved was shattered and the front bumper was severely smashed.

    About a year ago, troopers responded to a wrong-way fatal crash along the same stretch of I-485 at Oakdale Road.

    So far this year, troopers said there have been 841 crashes on I-485.

    [9 investigates: Why are there so many wrong-way crashes on I-485?]

    Trooper Ray Pierce said even though most accidents have happened in the southeast section on the interstate where traffic is heavier, some of their more serious wrecks happen along the northwest part.

    “This section of 485 hasn't seen that increase in traffic, as of yet. So, most are traveling at 70 plus, so when you have collision it is typically more severe,” Pierce said.

    The North Carolina Department of Transportation said there are no improvements planned for I-485 at Oakdale Road. Troopers said they patrol that stretch but not as often as the southeast corner.

    Officials said the patients from Tuesday's crash were rushed to Atrium Hospital with serious injuries.

    Troopers said they are concerned one of the victims could become paralyzed. If that happens, Blakenship could face additional charges.

    Check back with wsoctv.com for updates.

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