Driver of truck killed, pedestrian seriously injured in fiery wreck on I-40

Police say Tuesday’s fiery crash on Interstate 40 happened after two trucks collided, causing a chain reaction that killed one of the drivers and sent three people to the hospital.

Tuesday night, Raleigh police released details of the accident that shut down the highway for hours and sent dark smoke into the sky.

No charges have been filed, police said. The crash is still under investigation.

According to the accident report, a Stand Up Guys Junk Removal Truck and a silver Mercedes were stopped in the travel lane of I-40 at 11:44 a.m. near Lake Wheeler Road. The driver of the Mercedes, identified as Erica Braswell, was standing in the travel lanes, the report said. The report does not say why the two vehicles were stopped.

A truck, driven by Winfred Hooker, failed to reduce speed when approaching the truck and the vehicle. It collided with the junk removal truck and then “spun, struck (Braswell), overturned and caught fire,” the report said.

Meanwhile, the Junk Removal Truck, driven by Christopher Jeffers, rear-ended the Mercedes, the report said.

Hooker, of Efland, was killed as a result of the crash, while Braswell, of Raleigh, was “critically injured,” the report said.

Television footage of the wreck shows Hooker’s truck is destroyed.

Jeffers and his passengers have non-life threatening injuries.

All lanes were closed temporarily. Some westbound lanes were opened around noon, but eastbound 40 lanes were closed until after 5 p.m.

The Wake County school system warned that the accident will likely impact school bus service throughout the county, causing delays sending students home. Many buses, particularly those serving downtown Raleigh magnet schools, use I-40.

Ashad Hajela reports on public safety for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. He studied journalism at New York University.