CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - We've been waiting for more than a month to hear from the young woman who landed in the hospital after a construction vehicle collided with her on I-77. This Tuesday we met her for the first time since the accident.
We really had no idea what to expect. Nastasha Reinhardt just transferred from CMC Main to a rehab center in Huntersville on Monday. We were floored at her spirit. She is a ray of sunshine, so upbeat and positive it took us by surprise. Nastasha wasn't ready to go on camera, but we learned from other drivers, that construction vehicles keep coming into traffic in unsafe ways.
"Tell me about what happened this morning."
"I was driving down 77 south between exit 28 and 25 in the passing lane…I saw about three car lengths ahead of me, a white pick-up truck pull into traffic from the construction zone, not at the designated spot, between the orange cones, causing the semi to slam on his brakes and honk his horn," said Laura from Huntersville.
"What did you think when you saw that?"
"I thought, that was an extremely dangerous move and I thought of the girl who was recently injured in the accident on I-77 in a similar situation. I wanted to do what I could to track him down and get his license plate."
And that's exactly what she did.
Lauren took pictures and shared them with us.
We turned around and sent them to a handful of agencies to get results.
"If you had one thing you could tell NCODT, Highway Patrol, I-77 Mobility Partners, Sugar Creek Construction what would that be?"
"Our lives matter and our safety matters. We're not going to stand for this. We're going to speak out until something is done about the situation."
We drove the same route Lauren did.
Here's what we found on Facebook live.
"So far I have not seen any signs saying, construction vehicles entering or exiting the highway."
We didn’t see a designated merging area until after exit 25. Not the place Lauren says the construction vehicle entered traffic.
We reached out to the agencies responsible for the area. Highway Patrol says they're contacting the construction site supervisor about what happened. I-77 Mobility Partners just said they're looking into it.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation sent us a statement late this afternoon saying: "We’ve been in communication with the contractor about the pictures we were made aware of earlier today, and we are looking into this situation.
Continual measures are being taken to ensure trucks are entering and exiting the work zone properly, including using a flagger to control where multiple trucks are leaving the project, and how frequently they leave.
Additional “Trucks Entering Highway” signs are continuing to be installed, and we consistently reinforce to the contractor the importance of reviewing the entrance and exit points with truck drivers.
Statement from Trp. RH Pierce: "I met with construction officials Tuesday and reminded them of traffic safety. I also rode the construction on I-77 SB attempting to locate an unmarked entrance. I could not locate one that was not marked. I also checked with the comm center to see if we have had calls reference reckless driving involving contractors working on I-77. We have not had any that they could locate. The work zone is clearly marked which is required. We do keep a trooper in the work zone from 7a-11p working overtime projects to help keep traffic flowing and reduce collisions."
We'll continue to work to get results for drivers on I-77.