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Big rig driver charged in US 17 wreck

MERRY HILL – The driver of an 18-wheeler involved in a single-vehicle accident near here last Thursday that tied up traffic for hours on US 17 has been charged.

According to the North Carolina Highway Patrol’s Troop A / District II office in Ahoskie, Rafael Rodriguez, 54, of Florida was charged with failing to maintain lane control.

The NCHP report stated that Rodriguez was operating a 2003 Freightliner tractor-trailer at around 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 5. He was southbound on US 17 at that time.

Rodriguez was not seriously injured in the accident, which took place near the intersection of Taylor’s Store Road, less than one mile north of the US 17 / NC 45 intersection at Midway.

After flipping onto its side, the big rig blocked both the northbound and southbound lanes of US 17.

According to information from Jodey Sary, the trailer, based out of Florida, contained metal racks used for transporting a large volume of plants and flowers.

Sary said the driver was Latino and spoke very little English.

“Fortunately, a Hispanic family stopped at the scene and were able to help translate,” Sary said, as first reported by the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald in its Saturday, April 7 edition. “Through the translator we learned that the driver said sunlight at sunset got in his eyes, temporarily blinding him. He swerved to the right off the road, then overcorrected, swerving back onto roadway, causing the vehicle to flip over on its side.”

A heavy wrecker was summoned to the accident scene to remove the overturned big rig.

Sary said members of his department left the scene shortly before midnight.

Also responding were Bertie County EMS, the Bertie County Sheriff’s Office, and the North Carolina Highway Patrol.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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