CHARLOTTE — Southbound Interstate 77 was shut down last Friday night near uptown Charlotte as drivers blocked lanes and performed burnouts and donuts in the middle of the interstate.
Video posted on social media shows dozens of people stuck in the backups while others are seen recording the stunts.
On Monday, Channel 9 crews could still see the tire marks on the interstate from those stunts.
One woman told Channel 9 she was driving home from babysitting when she found herself right in the middle of the chaos.
“It was a crazy situation,” she said. “It was so much chaos and commotion, I was really frightened, like shaking.”
The incident happened around 11 p.m. near the Tyvola Road exit. The witness told reporter Tina Terry that about 30 Dodge Chargers sped past her on I-77 and then blocked all the southbound lanes.
She said the worst part was that no law enforcement was around to help.
The woman said she was so upset and shaken that she may never drive on I-77 at night again.
She did not want Channel 9 to use her name or show her face because she fears retaliation -- but she did want to tell her story.
“I didn’t know what to do,” she said. “I couldn’t take out my phone because I knew I wasn’t supposed to be there -- I didn’t know if they were going to do something to me with all the screaming and people running around.”
Last year, Channel 9 reported on similar incidents in parking lots in Steele Creek and about street racing in north Charlotte. CMPD told Eyewitness News they made hundreds of traffic stops during a special operation to stop racing on Interstate 485.
But Highway Patrol Trooper Ray Pierce said what happened Friday was unprecedented.
“In my 22 years of doing this, that’s the first time I’ve seen someone that brazen to where they have forethought and take time to close down the interstate -- three lanes of travel,” Pierce said.
He said they did receive 911 calls about the situation but said that by the time they got to that section of I-77, the group had left.
Troopers ask that anyone who sees something like that again call *47 and to try and remember the tag numbers of the cars involved.
“If you are stuck in this, write them (license plate numbers) down and that can spearhead our investigation,” Pierce said.
Charlotte City Councilmember Tariq Bokhari said he plans to talk to the district attorney about the growing problem.
“We have to figure out ways to get more proactive or lives will be lost,” Bokhari said.
CMPD said this has become a national trend where people together and showcase their cars by doing burnouts, donuts and street takeovers.
Police said the city of Charlotte has been exposed to this, and officers have heard from several community members about the issue.
In response to the ongoing issue, CMPD has partnered with its patrol divisions, Huntersville police, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol and the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office.
CMPD said since October 2020, they have been addressing speeding and reckless driving on Interstate 485 near Prospersity Church Road by increasing enforcement efforts. So far, nearly 3,000 citations have been issued throughout the course of more than 2,000 traffic stops. Police said more than 1,100 of these citations were for speeds between 16 mph and 25 mph over the speed limit. Another 184 citations were for speeds greater than 25 mph.
Cox Media Group