A man from Wilson died in a chain-reaction wreck that involved seven vehicles and set off a fire that burned three of them Monday morning on westbound Interstate 40 near Research Triangle Park, the State Highway Patrol said.
Dempsey Smith, 63, of Wilson was driving a Chevrolet sport utility vehicle when he was killed, according to the Highway Patrol.
Other drivers involved in the accident were taken to Duke University Medical Center and UNC Hospitals, but the Highway Patrol has not released their names or conditions.
The wreck happened shortly before 10 a.m. and closed the westbound lanes of I-40 at Davis Drive for several hours.
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Troopers are still trying to determine what happened, but it appeared that one vehicle had stopped because of backed-up commuter traffic and was rear-ended by a second vehicle. The accident then became a chain reaction as more vehicles collided, Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Jeff Gordon said.
Preliminary reports were that a passer-by had pulled Smith from his SUV before the fire engulfed it.