Crashes involving up to 50 vehicles close Interstate 40/85 in both directions

As many as 50 cars and trucks were involved in two chain-reaction crashes that shut down Interstate 40/85 in both directions Saturday evening, but only one person was seriously injured, according to the State Highway Patrol.

It was raining heavily when the first of the crashes occurred in the westbound lanes shortly after 6 p.m., according to the Highway Patrol. The second crash followed a short time later in the eastbound lanes.

The highway was closed in both directions just east of the Buckhorn Road exit, in western Orange County, until 8:35 p.m. Traffic was backed up for miles in both directions.

In addition to the one serious injury, several people were treated for minor injuries, the Highway Patrol said. Troopers estimated that 45 to 50 vehicles were involved.

It’s not clear what caused the crashes, but the Highway Patrol says the heavy rain was likely a factor.

Richard Stradling covers transportation for The News & Observer. Planes, trains and automobiles, plus ferries, bicycles, scooters and just plain walking. Also, #census2020. He’s been a reporter or editor for 32 years, including the last 20 at The N&O. 919-829-4739, rstradling@newsobserver.com.