HILDEBRAN — Seven people were injured, including four children, in a crash that shutdown Interstate 40 westbound for about two hours Wednesday morning.
Andrea Mechelle Royal, 31, of Cohutta, Georgia, was driving in the left lane on the eastbound side of I-40 before 10:30 a.m. when she lost control of her car, sending her car toward the median near the Burke/Catawba county line, said Trooper J. Swagger with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.
Royal’s car started rolling through the median, eventually sending it into the westbound lanes where a car driven by Laura Rebecca Craft, 41, of Taylorsville, hit it, Swagger said. Royal’s car then flipped over a guardrail before coming to a rest.
Royal had a 12-year-old, 11-year-old and 6-year-old in the car with her, as well as a 30-year-old person with a disability, Swagger said. The 11-year-old and 6-year-old were ejected during the crash, Swagger said.
Two people were airlifted, Swagger said. One patient was airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center Main in Charlotte, and another was airlifted to Mission Hospital in Asheville. Royal and two other occupants were transported to Frye Regional Medical Center in Hickory and later transferred to Mission Hospital.
Royal, the 12-year-old and the 11-year-old were all in serious condition at around 4 p.m. Wednesday, and the 6-year-old and 30-year-old were both in critical condition, Swagger said.
Craft had a 5-year-old passenger in the car with her, Swagger said. Both Craft and the 5-year-old were transported to Catawba Valley Medical Center in Hickory with non-life threatening injuries.
“Obvious question right off the bat is who wasn’t wearing seatbelts?” Trooper R. Rudisill, who helped to investigate the crash, said at the scene. “The seatbelt issue is a major concern. Also, why did she swerve way left?”
No charges have been filed yet, Swagger said.
Long View and Icard Township fire departments responded along with Burke County EMS, Catawba County EMS, Burke REACT, the Burke County Sheriff’s Office and NCSHP.
More information will be published as it becomes available.
Chrissy Murphy is a staff writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 828-432-8941.