By Dave Russell


A segment of U.S. 74/441 infamous for vehicle crashes during wet weather notched two more accidents Sunday when the area saw almost non-stop rain.

The first call came in to the N.C. Highway Patrol at 2:21 p.m. about a wrecked 18-wheeler at the U.S. 74 intersection with Mt. Zion Church Road, just west of the U.S. 74/441 interchange.

Steven Rudolph Shepherd, 49, of Goldsboro was driving a truckload of goods for Dollar General when he crashed.

“He lost control and left the roadway to the right and struck an embankment,” Highway Patrol Trooper Tyson Crawford said. “The truck continued to travel west on the right shoulder and struck some mailboxes and came to rest in the middle of the roadway.” 

Crawford was on scene about two hours, with traffic backed up at least that long, he said.

“We had one lane open for a while, so traffic was moving through slowly,” he said.

After he left, Jackson County Emergency Management had to clean diesel fuel off the road, he said.

Shepherd was charged with exceeding a safe speed.

In addition to the Highway Patrol, the Sylva Fire Department and Jackson County Emergency Management responded.

The second incident, shortly before midnight, involved a FedEx truck. Driver Dantrell Bernard Bye, 35, of Sharon, South Carolina, was traveling westbound when he hit that section of road.

“The driver of the FedEx truck lost control and went off the road to the right and came back onto the roadway, hit the median barrier and spun around and ended up in the left lane facing the wrong way,” according to Trooper Brody Crawford.

Traffic was backed up about 15 minutes. The driver was charged with exceeding safe speed. 

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and Sylva Fire Department responded to the scene.

The N.C. Highway Patrol reported 22 crashes during heavy rains Oct. 30 and 31 with four of them on U.S. 74/441 near that intersection with Mt. Zion Church Road, according to 911 Communications Coordinator Wanda Hall.

“It gets slick right through there when it rains,” Tyson Crawford said. “It’s a bad curve and people go too fast.”