Man killed in fiery Caratoke Highway crash identified

UPDATE: NC Highway Patrol say that 59-year-old James Lee Nixon, of Kitty Hawk, died at the scene of yesterday’s crash.

CURRITUCK COUNTY, N.C. (WAVY) — Caratoke Highway has reopened after one person was killed in a crash between a tractor-trailer, a Humvee and a pickup truck, Tuesday morning.

The Currituck County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the accident happened in Jarvisburg around 10:50 a.m. in the 7400 block of Caratoke Highway.

NC Highway Patrol tells 10 On Your Side that the man driving the pickup truck was traveling northbound when he drifted over into the center lane on Caratoke Highway. He then hit a tractor-trailer traveling southbound.

The tractor-trailer caught on fire and sideswiped a Humvee, which crashed into the sign in front of Southern Scapes Landscaping.

Owner of the business, Tom May, says he heard the collision from inside. He called 911, then ran to help one of his workers pull the tractor-trailer driver, Michael D. Jones of Roper, North Carolina, to safety.

“It reminded me of napalm in Vietnam, it looked like a bomb and a treeline,” said May, a retired Marine. “The driver jumped out and he landed in the middle of the road. I don’t know how he got out of it. […] we grabbed the guy and we dragged him over here into the ditch, and within a matter of three minutes, the police were here.”

Photos: Fiery Crash in Currituck County

A spokesperson for North Carolina Highway Patrol says a deputy pulled the pickup driver from his truck and began performing CPR, but the man died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

The man has been identified as 59-year-old James Lee Nixon, of Kitty Hawk.

“It does not appear that he was texting or using the cell phone in any manner and we don’t believe alcohol to be a factor as well,” said Sergeant Jeff Wilson of North Carolina Highway Patrol. “We’ll have to wait on the medical report to see why this driver may have drifted across the center line, and the rumble strips apparently didn’t assist us today.”

According to Wilson, in 2007 troopers responded to 14 deadly crashes on this stretch of Caratoke Highway, but since rumble strips were installed, that number has dropped to two or three per year.

“This is the first head on collision we’ve had on this highway in probably two years, so they’ve definitely paid off,” Wilson said.

Emergency personnel from the North Carolina Highway Patrol, Currituck County Sheriff’s Office, Currituck County Fire & Emergency Medical Services, Lower Currituck Volunteer Fire Department, Southern Shores Fire Department and the Kitty Hawk Fire Department responded to the scene.

The driver of the Humvee, Donald S. Kowalski of Chesterfield, was not hurt.

Investigators have not released the name of the driver who died.

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