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Accident Report Detail

Multiple Vehichle Collision and Fire, U.S. 13

Executive Summary

About 3:20 p.m. on May 31, 1985, a northbound Military Distributors of Virginia, Ine.9 tractor-semitrailer collided with two southbound vehicles on a curve on U. S. 13, about 2.3 miles south of Snow Hill, North Carolina. The first collision on the two-lane, undivided highway was with a 1982 schoolbus operated by the Greene County (North Carolina) Board of Education. After this collision, the Military Distributors vehicle continued northbound and struck a tractor-semitrailer loaded with grain, which had been following the schoolbus on the two-lane highway. During the collision with the grain truck, the Military Distributors semitrailer separated from its tractor, continued northbound and overturned onto its right side in the northbound lane.

The rear of the grain trucks semitrailer remained on the highway an was struck by a passenger automobile. After the collisions, the Military Distributors tractor, and the front of the grain truck's semitrailer caught fire. The weather was clear and the pavement was dry. The Military Distributors truckdriver sustained fatal injuries. Of the 27 schoolbus passengers (ages 5 to 13)15 sustained minor or moderate injuries, 10 sustained serious or severe Injuries, and 2 received critical Injuries. Six of the passengers died. The schoolbus driver, the grain truck driver, and the automobile driver and passenger sustained minor injuries.

Probable Cause

‚ÄčThe National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the failure of the driver of the Military Distributors of Virginia, Inc. truck to keep his vehicle to the right of the highway centerline because of inattention due to a momentary lapse of alertness, falling asleep, or an epileptic seizure.

Accident Location: Snow Hill , NC    
Accident Date: 5/31/1985
Accident ID: DCA85MH008

Date Adopted: 8/5/1986
NTSB Number: HAR-86-02
NTIS Number: PB86-916202

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