Driver of gospel group's bus which crashed near Charlotte will not be cited
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Police say the driver of the bus that was transporting a gospel group which crashed near Charlotte earlier this month will not be cited for causing the crash.
Eleven people were injured in the accident including several members of a The Bowling Family which is a Southern gospel group. They were headed to a concert at the City of Light/Inspiration Network in Indian Land, SC, which is located south of Charlotte.
Mike Bowling and his wife, Kelly, suffered serious injuries. Initial reports indicated that Mike Bowling suffered bleeding on the brain and that Kelly Bowling had either a broken or crushed vertebrae. The couple's daughter, Katelanne, suffered a broken clavicle in two places and lacerations to her face. All three were released from the hospital last week.
Kelly was released from Carolinas Medical Center and taken home to Nashville, Tenn. where she will remain under the care of doctors there. According to family friend Jesse Hopper, Kelly is in a full-body cast, and is expected to stay that was for at least 3 months.
The Bowling Family, formerly known as The Crabb Family, has performed for more than 15 years and have fans all over the country.
For many drivers who were on Interstate 85 in Gaston County when the crash happened Thursday, July 1st, it was clear to them what caused the crash involving the Bowling's bus and an 18-wheeler.
The wreck occurred just before 5 p.m. on a bridge spanning the Catawba River between Gaston and Mecklenburg counties.
The front of the tour bus apparently hit the rear of a tractor trailer causing the truck to jackknife and block all northbound lanes on the bridge, police said.
The investigation showed there was back-up at the weigh station and the line of tractor trailers spilled over into the traveling lanes of I-85.
According to the Belmont Police Department, the driver of the bus didn't realize there was a back up and didn't have enough time to avoid the accident. On Monday, Belmont Police Chief David James said the driver of the bus will not be cited.
"The tractor trailers are backed up at the weigh station, and I think that's what may have happened," said one person who called 911 to report the crash.
By law, all commercial trucks have to stop at weigh stations if they are open. With more than 12,000 vehicles passing on this stretch of the interstate daily, the lines fill fast and can create a problem for other drivers.
"You slow all the way down to 25 mph thinking they will move up and I can go in," said trucker Tim Mayfield. "When they don't, you've got to go on, and you're on the interstate going 25 mph."
Someone inside the weigh station is watching a camera to see if the line of trucks is backed up, a highway patrol official told WBTV.com.
If the trucks are backed up, the person monitoring the weigh station flips a switch which then activates an electronic highway sign informing the truckers the weigh station is closed. If that message is up, the truckers can resume traveling without stopping.
When asked how often the sign is activated, Trooper Sgt. Gregory Clemmons said, "Probably anywhere from 20 to 50 times an hour depending on the volume of traffic."
It's almost once every minute, providing someone actually sees the line of trucks backing up.
"Dealing with customers, watching the scales for violations, plus waiting on people as well as phone calls," are just some of the tasks Clemmons says workers have to do. "Sometimes, it's a tedious operation to watch the cameras, however, they are monitored, just not constantly."
That means truck drivers have to rely on their own judgement.
"If the ramp is full, [we] just bypass the scale, they [highway patrol] don't want nobody out there on that highway," trucker Larry Weiler said.
At the same time, other drivers on the interstate have to use common sense officials say.
"Pay attention," Clemmons said. "If traffic slows down in front of you, keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you."
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