Wreck injures four

A four-car accident in the westbound lanes of Interstate 40 near exit 136 left four people injured Friday.

One man was critically injured in the accident and was airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte via MedCenter Air helicopter. The other three drivers suffered non-life threatening injuries, with one man and woman taken to Catawba Valley Medical Center in road units, said Claremont Fire Chief Gary Sigmon.

N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper J.S. Swagger said traffic was stopped in the westbound right lane before the accident occurred because of an unrelated incident near exit 135 just up the road from the critical accident scene.

When a male driver of a blue Chevrolet Express van failed to stop at the traffic jam, he slammed into the back of a white Dodge Ram van, “sending it airborne,” Swagger said. The van landed on top of a Gold Chevrolet Blazer, and then continued to hit a black Ford Escape.

The driver of the Ram van was taken to CMC via helicopter. A male in the Express and female in the Blazer were taken to CVMC. The man driving the Escape suffered minor injuries and was not taken to the hospital from the scene.

Sigmon said the man driving the Ram van was unconscious when the helicopter arrived on the scene.

“We had just cleared the accident down by exit 135 and were back on Oxford Street when we got the call about this one,” Sigmon said.

The names of the victims were not identified by press time Friday.

In addition to highway patrol, personnel from Conover, Catawba and Claremont fire departments responded to the four-car accident.

Claremont and Catawba rescue were also on the scene.

The accident backed up traffic on I-40 for about 3 hours, and many citizens left their cars during the traffic standstill to converse with other drivers and look at the wreckage.

Bits of shattered glass and twisted metal covered the scene.

The Ram and Express vans, which originally collided, were left flattened on their back and front ends, respectively. The Ram van, which ended up in the median dividing east and westbound directions of I-40, dumped power tools about the wreckage site when the Express ripped open its back end upon the first collision.

The status of the injured parties was not known as of press time Friday.