The crashes happened on I-85 near the Roxboro Road exit, shutting down the interstate for about three hours.
Investigators say the first crash happened around 5:12 p.m. when a southbound tractor-trailer, driven by 58-year-old Lawrence Dixon, Jr. of Mississippi, clipped another vehicle while changing lanes. Fifty-year-old Dwight Edward Mason of Durham was driving that vehicle.
Mason's car then hit a van driven by 29-year-old Jason Elijah Tabares of Hillsborough. Mason and his passenger were treated for their injuries and released. Tabares and his passenger were not injured.
After the tractor-trailer came to a stop, a third vehicle -- driven by 53-year-old Betty Ellis Stephenson of Durham, --rear-ended the rig. Stephenson's passenger, 35-year-old Michelle Leigh Smith, was transported to Duke University Hospital but died from her injuries Wednesday evening. Stephenson is being treated for serious injuries.
No charges have been filed, but both crashes remain under investigation.