Authorities said the accident that happened just before 5 a.m., involved a tractor-trailer and a pickup truck.
They said the driver of the pickup truck died when he slammed into the back of the tractor-trailer.
"There is definitely an issue with speed from the small pickup truck that collided with the back of the tractor trailer," said Sgt. Margaret White with the North Carolina Highway Patrol.
The 18-wheeler's driver, Timothy Glidewell , was not hurt.
He declined ABC11's request for an interview, but told state troopers that the truck was pinned underneath the trailer, and he dragged it a few feet.
"The truck driver did not realize that there had been a collision," White said. "He knew there was something wrong with his truck. He thought he had a flat tire so he pulls over on the side of the road to check for the damage."
It took several tries by men and machinery to separate the mangled wreckage.
"They had a great deal of difficulty getting that truck from underneath the trailer," White said.
Troopers said the driver of the truck did not have ID on him. However, they did find a cell phone in the the white truck has crushed cab, showing two missed calls.
Authorities identified him as 39-year-old Troy B. Mitchell from Kenly, N.C.
They said the lack of skid marks at the point of impact seemed to indicate that the driver did not slow down as he approached the 18-wheeler.
Troopers said the big rig slowed down to about 50 mph as it got close to an exit ramp, and had lights working along with reflective tape along its bumper.