The N.C. Highway Patrol is working with the Burke County District Attorney’s Office to determine whether charges will be brought against a driver who hit three construction workers along Interstate 40, killing one, early Friday morning.
Troopers said that Timothy Robinson, 37, of Morganton, was driving in a work zone on I-40 westbound near Exit 105 around 2:30 a.m. when his 2006 Ford pickup truck drove through traffic cones and hit three workers.
Flavio Jaimez, 43, of Mount Gilead, died at the scene, said First Sergeant Brian Joines. Another worker was taken to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte with non-life-threatening injuries, and the third worker was treated and released from Grave Hospital in Morganton.
Alcohol and speed are not believed to have contributed to the fatal crash, Joines said. “We went through the gamut of field sobriety testing and were not able to determine any impairment.”
A blood sample was taken as a matter of protocol and will be processed by the State Bureau of Investigations, Joines said. But investigators believe that Robinson was likely driving below the posted construction speed limit of 55 mph.
“We’re looking at driver fatigue more than anything,” Joines said. “The area was very well lit from the construction going on, maybe (he was) mesmerized by the lights, maybe a matter of both.”
Joines said crews were working to repave the left lane of I-40 west as part of a larger project that’s been in the works nearly three years. This is the first injury to construction crews that Joines said he’s heard of.
“We have concentrated our enforcement efforts in this work zone (for that exact reason),” he said.
“We’re close to the completion date of the project so (this wreck) is disturbing to us.”
That section of I-40 was closed from 2:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Friday as troopers investigated and the N.C. Department of Transportation helped clean up debris, Joines said.
It will likely be Monday or Tuesday before charges, if any, are brought against Robinson, Joines said.