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Small change creates big problem

The sight of an overturned tractor-trailer drew lots of stares from drivers on Interstate 85 on Tuesday.

But had they known what was inside, they might have reached for their piggy banks.

The truck contained $296,000 – all in bags of pennies, nickels and dimes.

Its driver was on the I-85 ramp to northbound I-77 around 10:20 a.m. Tuesday when the load shifted, and the truck flipped, said Trooper R.A. Benge of the N.C. Highway Patrol. Benge estimated the driver was going about 40 to 45 miles per hour, faster than the 25 mph recommended for truck drivers on the ramp.

Keith Miller, 50, of South Carolina was cited for exceeding a safe speed. He was taken to Carolinas Medical Center after the accident, for what Benge said appeared to be a hurt arm and some cuts and scrapes.

Benge said he believed the truck was making a delivery for a security service. It is unclear where Miller was traveling. A representative for West Brother's Transportation Services, whose name was on the truck, did not return a call.

The accident shut down the ramp well into the afternoon. Workers spent about two hours moving the coin bags – one by one – from the flipped truck into another tractor-trailer. Some bags broke open, and change clinked to the ground.

Around 4 p.m., with most of the money transferred, crews tried to lift the truck.

But once upright, the side of the truck ruptured, spilling more coins along the shoulder. Workers got on their hands and knees to pick up the money and put it inside a blue cooler. A short time later, the truck was moved and the ramp reopened for traffic. Photographer Todd Sumlin contributed.

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