NC fire chief on way to accept award killed in I-40 crash near Statesville

IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. — A North Carolina fire chief who was on his way to a conference Sunday morning to accept an award for his department died in a single-car crash on Interstate 40 in Iredell County.

Troopers said Richard Sales died after he lost control of his car, drove down an embankment and crashed off I-40 west of Statesville.

The crash occurred on Wing Drive, a service road, near the Old Mountain Road exit, in the same vicinity where a motorcyclist and the driver of a semitrailer died in separate wrecks March 31.

Troopers said Sales was eastbound on I-40 when he hit some barriers in the middle of the road, lost control of his car and continued through to the westbound lanes and onto Wing Drive.

Sales, the fire chief at Reynolds Fire Department in Asheville, was headed to Wilmington for a conference on safety where he was set to accept an award on behalf of his station.

Friends said firefighting was a family passion for Sales and his death has hit his community hard.

"Richard is only the second fire chief in the history of the Reynolds Fire Department. His father was the first,” said Skyland Fire Chief Ryan Cole.

Sales leaves behind a son and a daughter.

Officials said the cause of the crash is still being investigated.

[RELATED: Retired Lenoir firefighter dead in series of fatal collisions on I-40 in Iredell County]

On March 31, along the same stretch of I-40, former Lenoir firefighter Gary Sanders was killed near Sharon School Road.

Sanders died after his motorcycle crashed into a tractor-trailer that was stopped because of another deadly crash earlier in the day.

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