Crime & Courts

Driver who ‘vaulted’ over I-485 bridge had 3 times legal limit of alcohol, report says

Here is where Robert Kite III and his SUV ‘vaulted’ off the Interstate 485 bridge at I-77 in south Charlotte on Sept. 19. Kite had a blood-alcohol content three times the legal limit for driving in North Carolina, according to a toxicology report released to the Observer this week.
Here is where Robert Kite III and his SUV ‘vaulted’ off the Interstate 485 bridge at I-77 in south Charlotte on Sept. 19. Kite had a blood-alcohol content three times the legal limit for driving in North Carolina, according to a toxicology report released to the Observer this week. Charlotte Observer file image

A driver whose SUV “vaulted” off the Interstate 485 bridge over Interstate 77 at more than 90 mph last month had a blood-alcohol content three times the legal limit for driving, his toxicology report shows.

Robert Kite III, a 48-year-old Charlotte resident, was pronounced dead at the scene of “massive trauma,” the State Highway Patrol said at the time. No other cars were involved.

The N.C. Medical Examiner’s Office released a copy of Kite’s toxicology report to the Observer this week. He had a blood-alcohol content of 0.24, according to the report. The legal limit for driving in the state is 0.08.

Data shows someone who has consumed that much alcohol will be disoriented, dizzy and have an exaggerated emotional state. They are also apt to stagger, have slurred speech, lose muscle coordination and lose visual depth perception.

Kite was barreling along at three times the speed limit on the curved northbound bridge that rises over I-77 in south Charlotte, according to the Highway Patrol.

Troopers were called at 12:56 a.m. on Sept. 19 to what was believed to be 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, troopers said.

Investigators said it was clear Kite was speeding 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 before “riding the wall” and going over.

Troopers said the vehicle didn’t roll over the wall. Instead, it “vaulted,” with the rear flying up over the nose of the SUV, which also indicated the speed involved. The SUV ended up partially in the median on the interstate below, entangled in cable wires.

Joe Marusak: 704-987-3670, @jmarusak

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