It happened around 6:30 a.m. after a Toyota Prius ran into the back of an 18-wheeler that was in the westbound lanes of I-540, about a mile from the Leesville Road exit in Raleigh.
The driver of the Prius, 23-year-old Brandon McLain, was taken to the hospital. He suffered non-life-threatening injuries. No one else appeared to be hurt in the crash.
Moments before the accident, another driver told ABC11 that a Ford F-150 hit his white Dodge Challenger, then kept going, causing him to hit the tractor trailer and crash into a ditch not far from where the Prius hit the big rig.
"This white F-150 construction crew burst over, hit me, I then proceeded to hit the tractor trailer there. And I spun out, ended over here," Tristan Richards said. " The black truck on the side over here, the S-10, almost hit it but moved over in time. Then the Prius just plowed right into it."
Richards told authorities that the white truck was pulling a trailer in the fast lane when it moved into the center lane and clipped his Challenger.
After Richards clipped the big rig, he said the 18 wheeler's driver stopped in the slow lane, and sat there for 8 to10 minutes as traffic passed on the left lane and the right shoulder.
Meanwhile, the driver of the 18-wheeler, Walter Gardner of Goldsboro, has been charged with failure to remove a vehicle after an accident.
McLain has been charged with failing to reduce speed to avoid a collision.
The right two westbound lanes of I-540 had to be closed for several hours as authorities worked to clear the scene.