When an SUV “vaulted” off the Interstate 485 bridge over Interstate 77 early Tuesday, it was going more than 90 mph, a witness reportedly told state troopers.
That’s three times the speed limit on the curved northbound bridge that rises a few hundred feet over I-77 in south Charlotte. The witness was another motorist and was not identified by highway patrol officials on Wednesday.
North Carolina Highway Patrol officials say it will be six to eight weeks before toxicology tests will be finished, showing whether the driver, 48-year-old Charlotte resident Robert Kite, was intoxicated.
Troopers say they were called at 12:56 a.m. Tuesday, and it was phoned in as a hit and run because a driver could not be found. Kite’s body was later found nearly 25 yards away from the crash, after it had been ejected midway through the vehicle’s fall from the bridge, officials said.
Investigators say it was clear Kite was traveling at a high rate of speed, because the flared concrete barriers are built to snap the axle of a vehicle during a collision. However, Kite’s SUV surpassed the speed threshold, hitting the concrete barrier then “riding the wall” before going over.
Troopers say the vehicle didn’t roll over the wall. Instead, it “vaulted,” with the rear flying up over the nose of the SUV, which is yet another indication of the speed involved, officials said. The vehicle came to rest partially in the median on the interstate below, entangled in cable wires.
Kite was pronounced dead at the scene of “massive trauma” from the accident. There were no other vehicles involved.