A terrible crash on Interstate 40 in North Carolina on Thursday, June 30, 2011 took the lives of three people. It is an example of the wrong person being behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer.
Ronald Eugene Graybeal, age 50, of Newport, Tennessee, failed to react to slowing traffic on the congested highway at the 15-501 exit between Durham and Chapel Hill. He slammed into a Ford F-250 pickup truck driven by John Hall Llanio, 38, of Kannapolis. He then hit a Chevy Equinox being driven by a Barbara Boda Caldwell, 64, of Mebane, and then hit a vehicle driven by Gary Dwayne Smith, 45, of Burlington. Finally, he hit a box truck driven a Greensboro man, Reginald Keith Thompson, 45, who fortunately survived.
Channel 11 WTVD and the NCDOT documented the horrific destruction extensively.
An overview shows the magnitude of the crash scene.
A pickup truck was crushed like an accordion by the tremendous impact.
One vehicle was burned so badly the make of it could not be determined.
State troopers said that Graybeal was under the influence of methadone and marijuana. He was charged with multiple crimes, including two counts of felony death by vehicle, one count of misdemeanor death by vehicle, driving while impaired, and possession of drugs.
He is currently in jail under $600,000.00 bond.
Graybeal has spent good a number of years in prison for crimes including rape and burglary.
The trucking company Graybeal was driving for, Hawley Transport, based in Tennessee, has some problems on its record. According to records with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the company scored 81.4 percent on driver fatigue. That means only 18.6 percent of all other trucking companies on the road have a worse record of that problem. In 11 fatigue cases, inspectors pulled Hawley Transport drivers out of service. Trucks owned by Hawley, which has 10 trucks and 10 drivers, were involved in two crashes in early 2010. Eight drivers committed traffic violations.
Ronald Eugene Graybeal
Graybeal’s boss told Channel 11 WTVD that Graybeal had taken random drug tests and passed every one. She said that the company had been told Graybeal had a prescription for methadone for pain.
Still, it goes without saying that a trucking company should take more care with the selection of its employees.
Who will be held responsible for the destruction of these three lives, and the anguish of their families?