Former firefighter stops to help, urges drivers to slow down after deadly I-77 collision

Good samaritan stops to help man struck by car on I-77

HUNTERSVILLE, NC (WBTV) - Mooresville resident Dan Gitro was one of the dozens of drivers who witnessed the aftermath of Saturday night’s deadly crash along I-77 in Huntersville. The pedestrian death happened near I-485 in between exits 19 and 20.

While Gitro was one of many drivers on the road that night, he claims he was one of the only people to stop at the site of the crash. The Mooresville resident says he worked as a firefighter for 15 years in New York.

“I’ve stopped at hundreds of scenes over the years and I couldn’t imagine leaving somebody helpless on the side of the road,” said Gitro.

Officials from the North Carolina State Highway Patrol identified the man who was killed as Franklin Donaldson. Troopers said Donaldson was trying to fill his car with gas while standing on the road.

The portion of the interstate where the crash happened is part of the I-77 construction zone and there is no shoulder.

“The construction zone is a hassle. It’s dangerous,” said Gitro.

He said he waited at the crash site until first responders arrived at the scene. He said his efforts to be a responsible citizen put his own life in danger as other cars continued to speed past the wreck and Donaldson’s lifeless body.

“When you see people on the other side of the road, you have to slow down,” said Gitro.

Trooper Ray Pierce with the NCSHP said that drivers are not required to stop and assist another driver if they come across a serious wreck, but they should call 911 and change lanes if first responders are working on the side of the road.

“You are required by law to move over leaving an open lane for the emergency vehicle or the tow vehicle on the right (or) left shoulder of the roadway or inside of any of the vehicle travel lanes,” explained Pierce.

He said there have been three pedestrian deaths in the construction zone in the last 12 months.

Officials said the driver who hit Donaldson, Terence Blanks, was charged with driving while impaired and felony death by vehicle. Gitro has a message about traffic safety and humanity for the other drivers on the road.

“You see the lights, pull over, slow down. You see somebody lying in the middle of the road, help your fellow brother,” said Gitro.

Copyright 2019 WBTV. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2019 WBTV. All rights reserved.