Ronald Eugene Graybeal, 50, of Newport, Tennessee is charged with one count of felony death by vehicle, two counts of misdemeanor death by vehicle, DWI, and possession of methadone, marijuana, and drug paraphernalia.
He is also a registered sex offender in Tennessee, previously convicted of rape. He is classified by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation as "violent."
Troopers say Graybeal was driving his big rig on I-40 West just west of the U.S. 15-501 exit in Durham about 4 p.m. when he failed to react to slowing traffic and plowed into three smaller vehicles - killing the drivers of all three.
Pictures from Chopper 11 HD showed a pickup truck carrying ladders literally wrapped around the front of the truck.
Nearby, an unidentifiable vehicle was completely burned out. Just to the east, the third vehicle had major damage to the front and rear.
The Highway Patrol identified the three dead as:
- Barbara Boda Caldwell, 64, of Mebane.
- Gary Dwayne Smith, 45, of Burlington.
- John Paul Llanio, 38, of Kannapolis.
Graybeal was not injured. His bond was set at $500,000.