9 hurt, including 6 children, after driver fell asleep in I-485 rollover crash, troopers say

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Nine people, including six children, were hospitalized after a driver fell asleep at the wheel, leading to a violent rollover crash Thursday night on Interstate 485 in west Charlotte, according to the North Carolina Highway Patrol.

The wreck happened around 11:15 p.m. on the inner loop near West Boulevard.

Troopers said Shontavia Smith-Barber fell asleep at the wheel and veered off the road, flipping the 2010 Chevrolet Traverse she was driving with a revoked license.

"She shouldn’t have even been behind the wheel of the car, let alone with nine people in a vehicle that is meant to safely carry eight,” trooper Ray Pierce said.

All nine people in the SUV were seriously hurt. The six children, ranging in age from 4 months to 10 years old, were not wearing seat belts, according to troopers.

"Children have softer bones. Their extent of injury is usually a lot higher than adults just due to the fact you are lighter weight,” Pierce said.

Three of the children were in critical condition as of Friday morning, troopers said, as was Smith-Barber.

The 4-month-old was in a car seat but was not restrained properly, investigators said. The front seat passenger was holding an 8-month-old when the crash happened.

"We have a lot of members in the department who have young children, so it definitely affects them seeing that,” said Assistant Chief Jason Hardin, with the Steele Creek Volunteer Fire Department.

Smith-Barber has been charged with careless and reckless driving, driving with a revoked license, failure to wear a seat belt and six counts of failing to restrain children.

The Highway Patrol is still investigating the crash.

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