Highway debris can be dangerous and even deadly – a lesson that was all too real this week in Davie County, North Carolina. A foreign object was kicked up into the windshield of a car this weekend and was ultimately responsible for the death of a well-known North Carolina resident.

While driving along Interstate 40 on Saturday, 59-year-old William Alexander “Alex” Williamson, a local forester, was involved in a deadly “freak” accident. A three-foot wide aluminum disk flew into the windshield of the SUV Williamson was driving and struck the man in the head before landing in the back seat.

When the car accident occurred, the passenger in the back seat dialed 911 while Williamson’s sister-in-law, Martha Williamson, took the wheel. At the time of the NC car accident, the car was traveling 70 miles per hour and on cruise control. Martha was able to bring the car safely to a stop after five miles. The two passengers in the car suffered minor injuries.

When emergency responders arrived, Williamson was transported to Davis Regional Medical Center in Statesville and then to Carolina Baptist Hospital before he died of his head injuries.

He worked for the Virginia Department of Forestry for 35 years.

North Carolina police are investigating the car accident. They say that marks on the metal disk lead them to believe that the object fell off of a truck and onto the highway and was then kicked up into the SUV’s windshield. Improperly tied loads can often lead to debris falling onto the interstate and then injuring or killing other drivers.