Trucker gets more than 11 years in 2011 I-40 wreck that killed 3 - WHLT 22 Connecting the Pine Belt

Trucker gets more than 11 years in 2011 I-40 wreck that killed 3

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Ronald Eugene Graybeal was under the influence of drugs when he caused an accident on I-40 in June 2011 that killed 3 people. Ronald Eugene Graybeal was under the influence of drugs when he caused an accident on I-40 in June 2011 that killed 3 people.
HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. -

A tractor-trailer driver whose rig slammed into cars creeping along in heavy Interstate 40 traffic in North Carolina, killing three drivers, has been sentenced to more than 11 years in prison.

A judge sentenced 52-year-old Ronald Eugene Graybeal on Tuesday after he pleaded guilty to three counts of involuntary manslaughter and misdemeanor charges of possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The North Carolina Highway Patrol says the four vehicles damaged in the June 2011 accident had stopped, then began moving at about 5 mph when the 18-wheeler hit a pickup truck. One car caught fire in the deadly chain reaction.

Troopers say Graybeal was driving 65 miles per hour. Investigators said the Newport, Tenn., man was under the influence of drugs at the time of the wreck.

Killed in the accident were 64-year-old Barbara Caldwell, of Mebane; 45-year-old Gary Smith, of Burlington; and 38-year-old John Llanio, of Kannapolis.

Highway Patrol spokesman Jeff Gordon said at the time, "This is one of the worst I've seen in a long, long time, especially with the number of vehicles involved. Any time you have a major interstate such as this, you have higher speeds and when we do have those collisions, they're pretty dramatic in nature."

The accident caused I-40 near 15-501 in Durham County to be closed for at least six hours. The crash remains under investigation to determine the sequence of events.

According to the Tennessee Department of Corrections, Graybeal was placed on five years probation in 2000 for aggravated burglary. According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation website, Graybeal was convicted of rape in 1981 and is on the sex offender registry.

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