The crash in the westbound lanes involved a tractor-trailor truck. Traffic in both directions was stopped to allow a medical helicopter to land, then, just the westbound lanes were heavily affected. All lanes reopened just before 11 a.m., but backups continued.
Pictures from Chopper 11 HD showed a car crushed beneath the front of the truck and a second beside it that was cut in half by the force of the collision.
In order to avoid the accident, the DOT advised drivers to take exit 290, turn left and follow NC 54 west to I-540 East, and back to I-40 at mile marker 283.
Investigators say it began with a smaller rear-end accident on the shoulder just west of the Harrison Ave. exit. A car stopped because of the traffic and was rear-ended by the truck which also hit another car. A total of six cars were involved by the time it ended.
Three people were taken to the hospital.