LAURINBURG — A Friday afternoon accident on U.S. 74 hospitalized two people, covered a stretch of the eastbound lane in poultry waste and caused a traffic back-up that lasted several hours and stretched for miles.
A dump truck carrying waste from a poultry farm that struck the Turnpike Road overpass and caught fire at 2:30 p.m. was cleared from the highway just before nightfall. The driver, James Galloway, 60, of 138 Lincoln Park Drive in Maxton, lost control of the vehicle following a blowout of a right front tire, according to Laurinburg police Capt. Terry Chavis. He and a passenger, Kenneth McInnis, 51, of Rowland, were taken to Scotland Memorial Hospital and later airlifted to medical facilities in Charlotte and Chapel Hill, Chavis said.
Chavis said the injuries were serious and would require emergency surgery.
Galloway will be charged with failure to maintain lane, Chavis said. No other vehicles were involved, but traffic was stalled on Church Street. The eastbound lanes of U.S. 74 remained blocked from exit 182 to exit 183 until about 6 p.m., when one lane was cleared.
Doug Bowen, safety officer for the Laurinburg Fire Department, said it appeared Galloway and McInnis had been thrown from the vehicle on impact. Firefighters spent about 15 minutes putting out the fire, he said. Spent fire extinguishers could be seen lying around the cab.
Traffic on Turnpike Road was blocked until about 3:45 p.m., when an inspector with the North Carolina Department of Transportation arrived and confirmed that the bridge remained structurally sound. Simultaneously, travel was allowed to resume on the westbound lanes of U.S. 74.
Scotland County firefighters, EMS personnel, Laurinburg police and the state Highway Patrol worked to guide traffic away from the accident. Those at the scene fanned their noses and brushed away flies and gnats, attracted to the cargo that had coated the roadway and part of the bridge.
Damage to the bridge was estimated at $45,000.