Did barrier cables contribute to fatal crash on Interstate 40?

There is a cable barrier in the median of I-40 where the accident happened, but the car went right through it.
January 27, 2014 3:26:23 PM PST
Sunday evening's fatal crash on Interstate 40 is once again stirring the debate about the use of cable barriers on North Carolina highways.

There is a cable barrier in the median of I-40 where the accident happened, but the car went right through it.

The I-Team has done extensive reporting on cable barriers. There have been a number of cases where the cables didn't do what they're supposed to do.

In this case, a man who saw it all happen tells the I-Team that he thinks the cables flipped the car and sent it flying in his direction.

"I saw him hit the cables, and then go through the cables, and then and all the wires are going up, going 30 feet high maybe," said eyewitness John Hine. "They looked like rubber bands."

It's something Hine and his passenger yesterday, Jack Kannan, will not soon forget, but it's what happened next that has them still shaking their heads.

"I was pretty confident it was coming through the windshield, but it didn't," said Hine. "It just went right over us."

They survived the accident without a scratch. What they can't figure out is how the car made it through the median in the first place, and for Hine, the notion that the cables might have made it worse.

"If those wires hadn't been there, I don't know that anyone would have been killed," said Hine, "but when he started flipping, that's what created the danger for us. I think the wires and cables had a lot to do with that.

Since the I-Team started reporting on the median cables, the Department of Transportation has always stood steadfastly by them, saying the vast majority of the time, they work and many times, save lives.  There are pictures backing that up when the vehicles were a in a relatively flat plane. However, in Sunday's accident, that was not the case. There is a dip in the median right before the cables.

One highway safety expert told the I-Team that he's not surprised by our eyewitness account of what happened. He said cables can flip cars if the conditions are right. Particularly, if median dips in the middle.  

That came as news to Hine and Kannan who are both eager to know why that car took a 90 degree turn, and stuck with the memory of the second that came next.

"God was looking after us that day," said Hine.

ABC11 made a number of calls to the DOT Monday. They never got back to us with answers or for an interview.

One spokesperson did say that there still a lot of unknowns including speed. The police report will have those answers when it is released.

See It On TV | Report A Typo |  Send Tip |  Get Alerts | Send us photos
Follow @abc11 on Twitter  |  Become a fan on Facebook

Load Comments