A 60-year-old Durham man was killed and four others were injured Thursday morning when a truck on N.C. 540 in western Wake County hit a bridge guard rail, caught fire and fell into a creek below, the State Highway Patrol said.
State troopers charged the driver of the truck, Gerardo Daniel Pacheco Gonzalez, 22, of Raleigh, with failure to maintain lane control and misdemeanor death by vehicle, Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Jeff Gordon said.
One of four passengers in the truck, Andrew Johnstone, died at the scene. Gonzalez and three other passengers were injured.
State troopers say Gonzalez was driving a 2016 Ford pick-up truck towing a work trailer northbound on 540 near Green Level West Road at about 7 a.m. The truck drifted to the left, veered onto the grassy median and collided with the concrete bridge railing, Gordon said.
The truck caught fire, hurtled dozens of feet down a steep rock embankment and landed on its passenger side, becoming immersed in a swampy creek. The truck belonged to Greenscape, a landscaping company in Holly Springs, Gordon said.
Personnel from several fire agencies were on the scene for rescue efforts, and Wake County EMS dispatched ambulances.
Firefighters loaded the injured into basket stretchers so they could be raised by a ladder truck extended over the opening in the bridge. The slopes were too steep for firefighters to carry the injured to ambulances.
Traffic backed up on both sides of the toll road following the accident. Most of the emergency apparatus took up northbound lanes.