GREENSBORO (WFMY) - The NC Department of Transportation (NCDOT) says one lane on I-73 south has reopened. However, delays are still expected as traffic has been reduced from three lanes to one. Traffic is being diverted onto the Groometown Road exit.
NC State Highway Patrol (NCSHP) says there is no definite time for reopening the roads. NCDOT says depending on the progress of the cleanup, a lane or two could remain closed for several days.
A tanker loaded with 8500 gallons of gasoline crashed and caught fire after hitting a patch of ice on the I-73 south bridge above I-85 north in Greensboro. The driver, Carl Wilson Throckmorton II, was able to escape before the tanker caught fire and is okay after being treated at a hospital. Highway Patrol says Throckmorton was charged with Exceeding a Safe Speed.
Throckmorton, from Scottsburg, Virginia, lost control after hitting an icy patch of the road around 7:30. The tanker went off the road to the right, hit an embankment of snow and a concrete barrier, causing it to overturn.
Throckmorton loaded up gas in Greensboro for delivery to a station in Asheboro.
The crash was near Exit 97-B on I-73 close to the I-85 intersection. I-85 north has since reopened, although the exit ramp to I-73 is still closed. I-85 south is still impacted.
"It was like a movie honestly."
Greensboro resident, Brian Edmonds witnessed the accident and assisted the driver along with another woman who he said happened to be a nurse.
"I saw it, all of a sudden it starts to slide and it kind of jack-knifed and from that point that's when it started flipping and as it was flipping that's when it caught fire mid-air and kept flipping," said Edmonds in a phone interview with WFMY.
Edmonds said he called 911 and then he and the woman tried to get to the driver but were pushed by little explosions. He said he went ahead to call 911.
"All of a sudden we see him start to run towards us. He got out by the grace of God. I was so happy to see that the guy was alive and didn't have any major injuries it was like a miracle honestly," added Edmonds.
Photos sent to WFMY News 2 showed huge flames on the ramp going over the highway.
North Carolina Highway Patrol suggests drivers take I-73 north or I-40 east as a detour.