Investigation underway after fiery crash kills tractor-trailer driver on I-485

At least one person is dead after part of a tractor-trailer caught fire on Interstate 485 in...
At least one person is dead after part of a tractor-trailer caught fire on Interstate 485 in northeast Charlotte Friday morning, sending a plume of smoke into the air.(Sean Miller)
Updated: Oct. 4, 2019 at 10:08 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - N.C. State Troopers are trying to figure out what happened in a fiery crash that killed the driver of a tractor-trailer on I-485 in northeast Charlotte Friday morning.

A co-worker of the tractor-trailer driver tells WBTV his name is 47-year-old Kenny Maddox and he served as a driver for Mecklenburg Transportation LLC out of Swainsboro, GA.

The wreck happened before 10 a.m. on I-485 outer at Exit 21, closing the interstate between I-77 at W WT Harris Boulevard for hours and sending a plume of smoke into the air.

After multiple conflicting reports, troopers say they have made contact with the driver of a car that was reportedly involved in the crash.

The driver says the car broke down and he left it so he could get to a job interview. According to NCSHP, the investigating trooper has evidence to support the car was left partially blocking the roadway.

Troopers originally said witnesses reported the tractor-trailer was traveling south on I-77 and merging when a passenger vehicle on the outer loop attempted to merge onto the ramp, hitting the tractor-trailer on the left side. Troopers said there were reports that the other driver involved got out of their vehicle and took off, causing a police K9 and a helicopter to be used to locate that driver.

Hours later, troopers said there were also reports of a stranded motorist just before the crash. They are looking into whether a driver struck the tractor trailer or the semi struck an abandoned vehicle.

The driver of a car involved in a deadly tractor-trailer crash is being sought
The driver of a car involved in a deadly tractor-trailer crash is being sought(Highway Patrol)

Troopers previously said the driver could possibly face felony death by motor vehicle charges, but they are now saying he will face a citation or charge of misdemeanor death. Troopers were processing the vehicle for registration information.

“We do not have a race, we do not have a sex - anything of that nature. They’re asking if anyone saw anything call *47 or the highway patrol office in Charlotte if you’ve got any bit of information that could assist us in the investigation," troopers said.

The reported collision caused the tractor-trailer to travel off the right shoulder, hit a concrete apron and strike a bridge pillar. The truck was engulfed in flames, killing the driver, troopers say.

The Department of Transportation will conduct a structural analysis on the bridge.

“One of the most frightening things I’ve ever seen,” Emily Kozel tweeted.

Sara Hinson was driving with her mother when they saw smoke and flames.

“As we were driving past it you could feel the heat like it was extremely hot," she said.

A fuel and oil spill accompanied the collision.

Family members of the victim set up a GoFundMe page following his death.

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