The State Highway Patrol said a Honda Accord was traveling west on U.S. 64 near the Franklin and Wake County line around 3:20 a.m. when it ran out of gas. The driver - 20-year-old Jashauna Wilson - pulled partially onto the right shoulder and turned on her emergency flashers, but troopers said the car was still sticking out into the far left travel lane.
A Nissan Altima driven by 23-year-old Marvin Lee then hit the Accord, causing the Altima to spin around and come to rest in the middle of the highway.
A second Nissan Altima driven by 27-year-old Timothy Richardson Jr. then hit the first Altima, causing it to split in half and become engulfed in flames. Lee was ejected from the vehicle in the crash and died.
Wilson and a passenger in her Honda were taken to the hospital, as were Richardson and two passengers in his Altima.
The Highway Patrol said both Wilson and Richardson were tested for alcohol. Richardson was charged with DWI. While Wilson was not legally intoxicated under North Carolina law, troopers said she was charged with provisional DWI because she is under 21.
Troopers estimated Richardson's Altima was travelling at 80 mph in a 70 mph zone before the crash.