ZEBULON — A driver died on U.S. 64 early Sunday after a car struck one that had run out of gas and then was hit broadside by a third car and caught fire and the operator was thrown from the vehicle, state troopers said.
The crash happened about 3:20 a.m. near the Wake County-Franklin County line, Sgt. Jeff Gordon said, and the westbound lanes were closed until about 7 a.m.
Three people were taken to WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh, and two more were treated at the scene for minor injuries.
Killed was Marvin Gerome Lee, 23, of Sanford. No other names were released Sunday night.
The chain collision happened after a Honda Accord ran out of gas and pulled partially off the pavement and onto the right shoulder, troopers determined. A Nissan Altima hit the rear, left corner of the Accord and spun it around 180 degrees, troopers said. The Altima also spun, and it stopped sideways across the westbound lanes. Then another Altima hit the first one broadside, they said.
The first Altima broke in half and caught fire, according to troopers. It was not immediately known if the driver died from crash injuries or the fire, and the body was taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office to determine that.
Gordon said alcohol is suspected as a factor in the accident and charges were pending, but details were being withheld Sunday.
The two people in the Accord had remained in their car and received minor injuries from the first crash, troopers said.
The three people taken to WakeMed were in the second Altima that hit the first one, they said.