Tractor-trailer driver blamed for wreck that killed 5

By Mike Gellatly -

ROWLAND — A tractor-trailer rig that did not slow down properly caused the fiery multi-vehicle wreck on Interstate 95 that killed five people Tuesday, including four members of the same family, according to the North Carolina Highway Patrol.

Three tractor-trailers, one carrying 500 gallons of gasoline, and four other vehicles were involved in the wreck, according to the Highway Patrol. Killed were the driver of one 18-wheeler, and the driver, an adult passenger and two children in a pickup truck.

The wreck happened near the seven-mile marker in the southbound lanes of I-95 where N.C. Department of Transportation crews were painting new lines on the highway.

According to investigating troopers, a tractor-trailer driven by Michael Elliott Bricker, 68, of Myrtle Beach, S.C., entered the work zone behind traffic that was slowing. Bricker did not slow enough and hit the back of a pickup truck carrying four members of the Spennati family of Goose Creek, S.C.

The pickup was propelled into the back of a Ford Explorer, and the Explorer was pushed into the rear of a third vehicle, according to the Highway Patrol. Bricker’s Volvo big rig kept rolling and hit a Freightliner 18-wheeler, setting its load of gasoline on fire. The Freightliner then hit a third tractor-trailer.

Bricker’s vehicle went off the side of the interstate and caught fire, troopers said.

The four people in the pickup truck who died were Cole Allen Spennati, 25; Elise Ann Spennati, 32; Sianna Spennati, 1; and Aila Spennati, 4, Trooper Will Henning said. Bricker also died in the wreck.

Four other people in two other vehicles were taken to hospitals in Chapel Hill and in Florence, S.C., with serious injuries, Henning said.

The drivers of the other two trucks, Dewey Wayne Harrington, 50, of Bunnlevel; and Stannie L. Kirkland, 58, of Sylvester, Georgia, were treated at the scene and released, Henning said.

By Mike Gellatly

Reach Mike Gellatly at 910-816-1989 or via Twitter @MikeGellatly.

Reach Mike Gellatly at 910-816-1989 or via Twitter @MikeGellatly.

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