Man killed on US 221 Thursday morning
A 47-year-old Cliffside resident died at 2:08 a.m. Thursday after his the Ford Explorer collided head-on with an 18-wheeler on US 221 at Hines Road.
The North Carolina Highway Patrol said Joseph Mike Roach was driving north when he traveled left of the center line and struck the tractor-trailer driven by Michael Eugene Ledford, 33, of Bakersville. Neither the truck driver nor his passenger were injured. Roach died at the scene.
The collision occurred in the construction zone, but was well after all active construction had ceased, said Sgt. Kevin Owens of the North Carolina Highway Patrol.
According to Owens and trooper Nick Horton, who investigated the accident, when the vehicle traveled left of center it hit the tractor trailer in the driver's side and the tractor's rear tandem. Ledford told the highway patrol he attempted to avoid the collision.
After the crash, the 18-wheeler was partially off the road. The Ford Explorer spun back across US 211 and came to a rest on the north bound shoulder of the road.
As a result diesel tank from the tractor-trailer was opened, creating a fuel spill. The Cliffside Fire Department, Rutherford County Emergency Management and the North Carolina Department of Transportation cleaned the fuel spill and re-opened road at about 6 a.m.
This is Rutherford County's first highway fatality in 2013.