By DWIGHT OTWELL
dotwell@cherokeescout.com Tuesday, August 7, 2012 8:05 PM CDT
Culberson – Two N.C. Department of Transportation workers were killed shortly after 2 p.m. Friday on N.C. 60 when a vehicle reportedly ran into them.

The victims have been identified as Dannie Burrell and Tony Wright, N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper Kenny Hyde said Saturday morning.

A black Ford Escape with a North Carolina handicap tag and heavily damaged front end was on the side of the road after the accident Friday afternoon. The vehicle also appeared to have run into the rear side of a DOT dump truck. The accident occurred more than a half-mile south of Cook Bridge Road, just south of Adams Lane. The driver of the Escape – Richard Woodbury Roberts, 65, of Murphy – was transported by ambulance to Ranger Elementary/Middle School where a helicopter flew him to Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga, Tenn., where he was listed in stable condition Saturday morning, Hyde said.

Roberts was no longer in the hospital Tuesday morning, according to a spokesperson for Erlanger Medical Center. Hyde said Tuesday that Roberts was released from the hospital Sunday. He believes Roberts sustained leg and arm injuries.

DOT employee Shane Garland said a six-man road crew was working on the east shoulder of the wide, five-lane highway, where they were repairing a washout. None of the four who survived were injured.

Burrell and Wright were standing behind a DOT dump truck when Roberts’ vehicle ran off the right side of the road, then struck them and the dump truck, Hyde said.

The road was dry and is not normally congested. There were no apparent skidmarks near the accident scene, although debris from the

Ford Escape was scattered about 75 feet along the

highway.

A dog was being taken care of by rescue personnel. The medium-size dog had been in the Ford Escape at the time of the crash, according to rescue personnel.

Hyde and N.C. Highway Patrol Sgt. Chris Wood were investigating the cause, of the accident. Although Hyde would not speculate on the cause, he did say charges are pending against Roberts.

Hyde said a toxicology test has been sent off for testing, and a state vehicle reconstruction team was on the scene. A toxicology test is required to be taken in any accident involving a fatality. A decision on charges against Roberts will not be made until the reconstruction team completes its work and the results of a toxicology test are completed.

“They were two good men and this is terribly unfortunate that this happened to two of the hardest workers we had,” said Wesley Grindstaff, district engineer for DOT.

“They were good people and respected and liked by everyone. A lot of people, in DOT are hurting because they are gone. They can’t be replaced, and they will be missed.”

Burrell had worked with the DOT since 2003 and Wright since 1994, according to a DOT spokesperson.

Burrell, 66, of Marble, worked in the maintenance department for the DOT. He worked with the chain crew at Murphy High School football games, according to his obituary notice from Townson-Rose Funeral Home. Funeral services were held Tuesday at Townson-Rose Funeral Home Chapel in Murphy with the Rev. Darren Shuler officiating. Burial was in Peachtree Memorial Baptist Church Cemetery. Masonic rites were given by Marble Springs Masonic Lodge No. 439.

Wright, 60, of Murphy, was a DOT supervisor of road construction. A memorial service will be held at 2:30 p.m. today at the Townson-Rose Funeral Home Chapel in Murphy. A eulogy will be given by his son, the Rev. Matthew Wright. A private burial will be held later in the Scroggs family cemetery.