Crime & Courts

16 die on NC highways during holiday weekend

The State Highway patrol said Tuesday that 16 people died in crashes it investigated during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, including one in the Triangle in which a heavy-equipment operator died after his machine ran off U.S. Highway 70 in Durham County.

The count this year was two more than in 2013.

The victims died in 16 accidents between 6 p.m. Friday and midnight Monday, troopers said.

In the Triangle accident, troopers said Ronald Lee Woody of Rougemont was driving a road grader west on U.S. 70 near Fletcher Chapel Road about 11:30 a.m. Monday when the machine went off the right side of the highway.

The grader hit a retaining wall and an abandoned house, troopers said, and Woody was thrown from it and run over.

Troopers were unable to account for why the grader veered off the road and said an autopsy would determine if Woody, whose age was unavailable, may have had a medical condition that led to the accident.

The statewide death total from the Highway Patrol is based on accidents handled by troopers and does not include crashes investigated by municipal police.