Driver trapped for hours in I-85 truck crash loses leg, officials say

GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — Crews worked overnight to remove a tractor-trailer that crashed down an embankment on Interstate 85 Thursday afternoon in Belmont.

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Around 4 a.m., all the northbound lanes were reopened after the trailer and cab were removed from the side of the interstate -- 14 hours after the crash.

Workers shut down three of the four northbound lanes around 1:15 a.m. and were able to pull the trailer portion of the truck up to the interstate.

Shortly before 3 a.m. they towed the trailer portion away and began working to retrieve the cab, which they were able to remove around 3:30 a.m.

Cones were added along the side of the interstate in place of the guardrail, and crews returned later Friday morning to repair it.

The big-rig crashed Thursday afternoon around 1:30 p.m. off the side of I-85 and flipped on its side down an embankment.

Chopper 9 flew over the scene, where firefighters worked for several hours to free the driver. The driver's name has not been released.

On Friday officials told Channel 9 that the driver has lost one of his legs.

Firefighters used ropes to get down to the driver because of how steep the embankment was.

The rescue effort went on for about four hours and a tow truck was brought in to stabilize the 18-wheeler.

Firefighters were exposed to poison oak during the rescue and had to be decontaminated.

I-85 northbound was shut down near Beaty Road, causing a 12-mile backup from the crash, officials said.

After removing the driver from the cab, he was flown to Carolinas Medical Center.

The northbound lanes of I-85 reopened early Thursday evening before briefly closing again as workers removed the big-rig from the embankment.

There was no word yet on what caused the wreck.

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