Friday, December 21, 2012
GRAHAM – An ambulance losing part of its transmission caused an accident on Interstate 40/85 Thursday morning.
Two drivers following the ambulance struck transmission debris, their vehicles damaged.
“One of the women described it as a pretty big piece of metal,” said Trooper J.B. Chinnici of the N.C. Highway Patrol.
He said the driver of the ambulance was traveling east near the N.C. 54 exit when his vehicle began shaking violently. The driver told Chinnici he looked in his rearview mirror and saw debris on the interstate behind him.
“He described it as sounding like an explosion,” Chinnici said of the mechanical malfunction.
The ambulance lost power and the vehicle coasted to the side of the interstate. There were no injuries. Chinnici said the ambulance, which belongs to Mission Hospital in Asheville, was transporting a patient to Jacksonville. He said another ambulance was summoned to take the patient the remainder of the trip.
The ambulance was a 2009 McCoy Miller model driven by Randy Fugate, 50, of Clyde. The first car to strike the debris was a ‘98 Buick driven by Sandra Jarrell, 52, of Blue Moon Trail in Burlington.
Chinnici said the debris punctured the gas tank in Jarrell’s vehicle and the car lost about eight to 10 gallons of fuel. He said the spill was cleaned up by members of responding fire departments.
The second vehicle to strike debris was a 2010 Kia driven by Shauna Smith, 43, of Charlotte. Chinnici said damage to that car was minimal – primarily a punctured right front tire. The tire was changed and Smith was able to continue.
The accident happened about 10 a.m. Chinnici said no charges were filed.
“Think about it,” he said, “either me or you could have been driving it.”
Chinnici said the accident could have been considerably more serious. “Everything’s fine compared to what it could have been,” he said.