Troopers: Driver killed when tractor-trailer collides with construction vehicles on I-77

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A crash involving a semi-truck and several construction vehicles left one person dead and shut down a portion of Interstate 77 in north Charlotte for hours Monday morning.

The collision happened around 2 a.m. in the southbound lanes of I-77, near W.T. Harris Boulevard and just before Interstate 485.

Troopers said the crash involved at least three vehicles -- a semi-truck, a dump truck and a white pickup truck. Huntersville fire officials said the tractor-trailer hit several construction vehicles.

MEDIC said two people were taken to the hospital. Huntersville fire officials initially said nobody was seriously injured but later Monday morning, the Highway Patrol told Channel 9 that the driver of the tractor-trailer died.

No names have been released.

The interstate was closed through 9 a.m. while troopers investigated the collision and crews cleaned up.

Investigators told Channel 9 it appeared that the driver of the tractor-trailer didn’t see the lane closure and crashed into two Sugar Creek Construction vehicles. Workers were inside the vehicles at the time of the wreck but they were not seriously injured.

Sugar Creek Construction sent Channel 9 the following statement:

Sugar Creek Construction has been informed that during a subcontractor’s operation that involved a rolling roadblock with Truck Mounted Attenuators (TMA) and a police officer with flashing lights, a tractor-trailer passed the police officer and struck the subcontractor’s TMA which then hit the vehicle it was protecting in front of it. Individuals working on scene were evaluated there or at the hospital by medical personnel and have been cleared. We are thankful that no further injuries occurred and that the TMA served its purpose by absorbing the impact of the crash to help save lives.

“It appears that the driver -- whether it was inattention, whether it was sleep deprivation -- just did not see the lane closure,” Trooper Ray Pierce said.

Prior to the fatal crash, a viewer sent Channel 9 video showing a truck in flames on I-485 near Rea Road in south Charlotte. Officials said a construction vehicle and a car collided. It’s unclear who was at fault in that wreck, or if any workers were hurt.

One person was taken to the hospital.

“It appears that both of these (crashes) are probably going to be driver error,” said Pierce. “It’s a stark reminder that when you approach these construction zones, to be vigilant -- to be hyper-vigilant when you go into these construction zones.”

Pierce said driving habits have changed as much as the driving patterns. For months, busy roads like I-77 were empty as fewer drivers were out and about because of the pandemic and a lot of construction projects were paused.

“More people are starting to get back out, as construction is starting to pick back up because restrictions on COVID are starting to ease up.”

The North Carolina Department of Transportation said last year 6,542 people were injured in construction zone accidents, and 30 died. More than half of those injuries were caused by drivers either speeding or distracted.

The North Carolina Highway Patrol has launched a campaign called “Move a Little, Save a Lot.” It focuses on education and enforcement of the state’s move-over law. The law requires drivers to move over a lane when passing an officer, other first responders, or road maintenance vehicles.

If a driver seriously hurts or kills a first responder or worker, they could face a felony charge and get prison time. They could also lose their license for up to six months.

Check back with wsoctv.com for updates.