ROCKINGHAM — There’s been another wreck on U.S. 220 South, and this one could have ended in disaster.
Eddy Gonzalez, 49, of Florida, was driving a tractor-trailer down the new bulge in the highway right before a bridge over what will be a new road when he lost control. Hauling pallets of what appeared to be paint or a sealant, the truck hopped over the guardrail — leaving it flattened — but was able to get back on the road just before the start of the bridge and a steep drop below.
But Gonzalez over-corrected, according to N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper Wesley Maynor, and the truck toppled over, splitting the trailer on the side of the bridge and sending four pallets careening off the bridge to the would-be road below and spilling more of the cargo onto the bridge.
Gonzalez suffered a minor leg injury in the wreck, but a witness thanked God it wasn’t much worse.
Steve Harwood, a driver for Trinity Manufacturing out of Hamlet, said Gonzalez was just in front of him when Gonzalez wrecked. Harwood stopped to help Gonzalez get out of the vehicle and said he thought he was going over the bridge, but Gonzalez apparently steered the truck back onto the road long enough to avoid tumbling off the bridge.
Gonzalez had followed him from Candor, but when Harwood slowed down for the coming turn Gonzalez passed him not knowing what was ahead, Harwood said. The southbound side of U.S. 220 across from Northside Drive is a major hazard for truck drivers in the area and doesn’t have enough signage to warn drivers of the danger, according to Harwood.
“It’s a matter of time before someone goes over the bridge,” Harwood said. “Us local guys know (how to navigate the area) but these out-of-town guys don’t and this is the end result.”
Further up U.S. 220 across from The Berry Patch, two other tractor-trailers rolled over in the exact same spot within two weeks of each other in July. Harwood said local truck drivers often have to radio others who are driving too fast to warn them or get in front of them to slow them down. The danger is especially bad at night, Harwood said, because the road opens up and truck drivers speed up.
Trooper Maynor issued Gonzalez two traffic citations. One was for exceeding a safe speed and one was for failure to maintain lane control.
Traffic was funneled through one lane for several hours Friday afternoon because crews had to get a tow truck onto the bridge. It took even longer to clean up the sticky substance that spilled from the truck.
“I thank the good Lord the driver is okay,” Harwood said.
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]