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LINVILLE FALLS, NC – A semi driver faces multiple charges after being involved in a fatal truck accident Sunday, Ferbruary 27, in McDowell County, North Carolina. The passenger in the tractor trailer died after the semi crashed on U.S. Highway 221 near the city of Linville Falls. The truck accident occurred in the far west part of the state near the Tennessee border, about 82 miles north of Spartanburg, South Carolina and about 153 miles east of Knoxville, TN.

On Sunday 53 year old David B. Small of New Jersey was driving a semi trailer truck through western North Carolina, amidst the Blue Ridge Mountains. There was one passenger in the tractor trailer at the time of the truck accident, identified as 51 year old Ricky D. McDuffie of Bishopville, South Carolina. The 18 wheeler truck was carrying a cargo of batteries used to power small vehicles including motorcycles and lawn mowers.

Shortly after 12 noon Sunday, the truck driver was traveling south on U.S. 221 about 20 miles north of the city of Marion. The crash occurred as Mr. Small was going down a steep six percent grade on the highway near the city of Linville Falls. According to reports on the truck accident, as the driver descended the mountain he lost control of the tractor trailer.

The semi driver would later tell police that his brakes failed and witnesses reported smelling brakes burning just before the truck accident.

The out of control tractor trailer hurtled down the mountain highway, as the driver struggled to keep the rig on the road. The semi trailer went off the roadway on the right side and then the driver pulled the rig back onto the highway. The tractor trailer skidded across the road and crashed into a large boulder. The tractor trailer burst apart and was completely destroyed in the truck accident, the cab section coming to rest on an embankment on one side of the road and the trailer section on the opposite side of U.S. 221, stopped by a rock wall running alongside the highway.


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The force of the truck accident broke open the trailer section and approximately 2000 batteries were strewn across the highway. Some of the batteries were split open and began to leak battery acid out onto the road and ground.

McDowell County Emergency rescue teams quickly responded to the single vehicle crash. Paramedics rushed to the aid of the two men, who were both wearing their seatbelts. Sadly, the passenger, Mr. McDuffie, suffered fatal injuries in the truck accident and died at the scene. The truck driver, Mr. Small, sustained serious injuries in the collision. He was stabilized at the scene and then transported by medical helicopter to Memorial Mission Hospital in Asheville, NC. His condition is considered critical and potentially life threatening.

After caring for the victims of the crash, highway teams were brought in to clean up the crash site. North Carolina Highway Patrol shut down a section of U.S. 221 surrounding the truck accident site so the crews could remove the destroyed semi cab, trailer section, and other debris. A hazardous materials team worked on cleaning up the cargo of batteries and soaking up the spilled battery acid. The haz-mat team poured lime powder on the battery acid to neutralize the material and dug up soil where the acid had soaked into the ground. Fortunately, there were no nearby streams so the acid was kept out of local water systems.

The section of U.S. 221 was still closed on Monday, almost 24 hours after the truck accident.

NC Highway Patrol is investigating the fatal crash and interviewed the driver and several witnesses. A team may also inspect the brakes on the semi, to determine if they were faulty, supporting the claim of the truck driver, Mr. Small. One trooper said the driver may have been going too fast as he drove down the steep grade, which could cause the brakes to overheat.

At this point the semi driver faces multiple citations, pending the completion of the truck accident investigation.

Often times the truck company and the truck driver will be from other states other than where the accident occurred. Truck accident attorneys often times have relationships with other experienced truck accident lawyers licensed in other states. Gordon, Elias & Seely LLP are licensed in Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana and Washington, DC and have informal relationships with other truck accident lawyers. Visit their NC truck accident lawyer page for more information about North Carolina truck accidents or call toll free 24/7 at 1.800.773.6770.

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