It happened near exits 71 and 72 near Dunn around 3:30 a.m. The NC Highway Patrol says a tractor trailer travelling north collided with a car also travelling north, killing two people.
According to the Highway Patrol, the driver of the car lost control and was stopped sideways in the middle of a northbound lane. That's when the tractor trailer hit the car.
Authorities say the car caught fire with the male driver inside and a female passenger was ejected from the vehicle. Both of them died.
The dead are identified as 55-year-old Bert Baytops and 38-year-old Trelina Covington, both from Newark, N.J.
Investigators believe Baytops fell asleep while driving.
The tractor trailer driver survived the crash and authorities say he will not be charged.
Both directions of the highway were closed for several hours while authorities cleared the scene. One southbound lane reopened just after 7 a.m. North and southbound lanes reopened by 8:30 a.m.