A tractor-trailer wrecked in the lower runaway truck sandpile on U.S. 421 in western Wilkes County Thursday morning, leaving the driver seriously injured and entrapped in the cab.
Loyd Dale Brown, 62, of Randleman, was driving a 2000 Freightliner with a full load of treated lumber down the Blue Ridge Mountain escarpment when he lost his brakes and went into the sandpile about 9 a.m., said Trooper C.M. Anderson of the N.C. Highway Patrol.
Anderson said the speed at impact was about 75 mph, but the speed limit for trucks on that section of U.S. 421 is 35 mph. The cab was broken away from the trailer and lumber was spilled across the sandpile and on the cab, said the trooper, adding that the rig nearly went to the end of the sandpile.
Brown was freed from the wreckage after Champion Fire and Rescue, Millers Creek Fire Department and the Wilkes Rescue Squad worked for nearly an hour and 50 minutes on the extrication. Emergency personnel were dispatched at 9:01 a.m. Wilkes Emergency Medical Services, the Deep Gap Fire Department, Watauga County Rescue Squad and N.C. Highway Patrol also were on the scene.
All lanes of U.S. 421 were closed to traffic from about 9:50-10:50 a.m. to allow a clear landing zone on the highway for the AirCare helicopter that transported Brown to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem.
Anderson noted that Brown was treated for possible internal injuries at the scene, and that he was alert and talking to rescue personnel. Trooper Josh Cockerham charged Brown with exceeding a safe speed.
About 75 gallons of diesel fuel spilled onto the sandpile from the damaged tractor. Wilkes Emergency Management Director Suzanne Hamby was called to the scene to arrange for a clean-up of the fuel.
Champion Chief Craig Hollar asked all able-bodied manpower on the scene to help clear a path through the large amount of lumber scattered about on the cab and elsewhere on and received this assistance.