Authorities say the cause of a North Carolina Department of Transportation worker suffering fatal personal injuries on the morning of June 2 when a tractor-trailer struck him was distracted driving.


The N.C. Highway Patrol reported that 21-year-old Autryville resident Jonathan King died around 7 a.m. while working on the shoulder of Interstate 40 at mile marker 364 in Duplin County.


Another NCDOT worker, Brady Williams, sustained injures in the accident. He was transported to Sampson Memorial Hospital and was released after undergoing treatment.


According to authorities, the driver of the tractor-trailer, St. Paul’s resident Ernest Harris, had been looking at some shipping papers shortly before the collision.


According to Highway Patrol 1st Sgt. Will Thurston, Harris briefly took his eyes off the road, and when he looked at the road again, he had crossed the white line and was headed straight for the DOT truck. He didn’t have enough time left to evade the truck.


Police charged Harris with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, reckless driving, failure to maintain lane control, and failure to reduce speed.


According to DOT spokeswoman Greer Beatty, King and Williams were preparing for a lane closure for bridge construction. King had exited the truck to unhook a construction sign from it when the truck was hit, pinning him.

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