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Drunk Driving at Root of Fatal I-85 Crash Near Charlotte

A chain-reaction crash on the interstate west of Charlotte, North Carolina (NC), left a U.S. Postal Service delivery person dead. The three-vehicle pileup happened at around 5 am on March 25, 2017.



According to the Highway Patrol, the deadly wreck started when the driver of a car stopped in the center lane of I-85. That unexpected action caused a following tractor-trailer operator to stomp on his brakes. The mailman who lost his life slammed into the back of the semi, causing his mail delivery truck to burst into flames.

Authorities identified the USPS employee as 60-year-old Calvin Hazel Jr. He died at the scene.

Law enforcement officials also told reporters that they have charged the driver of the car with driving while impaired. The intoxicant appears to be alcohol because news reports used the term "drunk driver."

Statistics compiled by the North Carolina Alcohol Facts program run by the Highway Safety Research Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill indicate that DWI played a role in 8,659 crashes in the Tar Heel State during 2015. While these represented just 6.9 percent of all crashes on North Carolina roads and highways that year, alcohol or drug use was associated with 30.1 percent, or 415. of all fatal crashes.

Even if DWI had not been involved in the fatal rear-end collision in Mecklenburg County, the driver of the car might face charges for triggering the deadly chain of events. Section 20-161 of the North Carolina Code makes it illegal for a driver to stop on "the paved or main-traveled portion of any highway or highway bridge with the speed limit posted 45 miles per hour or greater unless the vehicle is disabled to such an extent that it is impossible to avoid stopping and temporarily leaving the vehicle upon the paved or main-traveled portion of the highway or highway bridge."

There is no indication that the car broke down before coming to a stop on the Moore's Chapel Road overpass at the approach to the Sam Wilson Road exit from I-85. No exact explanation for why the person behind the wheel of the car stopped in traffic is publicly available, but the decision appears to have been either voluntary or caused by intoxication.

Driving while impaired by alcohol is reckless in itself. Creating further danger by stopping suddenly in interstate traffic practically guarantees an irreversible tragedy will occur. My Carolina wrongful death attorney law firm colleagues and I send our heartfelt condolences out to the friends and family of the postal worker needlessly killed on I-85.


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