TUESDAY UPDATE (6 P.M.): Search for driver of submerged tractor-trailer halted because of darkness

TUESDAY UPDATE (6 P.M.): Search for driver of submerged tractor-trailer halted because of darkness

Lenoir County Fire Marshal Dustin Burkett, center, provides an update to Neuse News Publisher B.J. Murphy, right, and Editor Bryan Hanks Monday afternoon.

The search for the driver of a tractor trailer that went off U.S. 70 into the Neuse River early Sunday morning continued Tuesday.

Lenoir County Emergency Services Director Roger Dail said the search would be suspended as darkness neared.

“But we’ve had crews here looking all day today,” he said.

The searchers were using equipment called side scan sonar, which creates a picture of the riverbed when towed through the water. Officials are still not releasing the name of the driver or the company that owned the truck, but State Highway Patrol Sgt. Scott Hemby confirmed the trailer involved was a U.S. Mail trailer.

The search is expected to resume Wednesday morning.

— Neuse News Correspondent Catherine Hardee

UPDATE MONDAY, 1:30 P.M.:

As of 12:30 p.m., both lanes of U.S. 70 East and one lane of U.S. 70 West are now open following Sunday morning’s accident that involved a tractor-trailer.

Lenoir County Fire Marshal Dustin Burkett said the tractor and trailer were successfully removed from the river late Monday morning.

“Our 911 center received a 911 call about debris in the roadway,” Burkett said. “The Kinston Police Department came and investigated it and noticed the tractor-trailer that had gone over.”

According to Burkett and Sgt. Scott Hemby of the State Highway Patrol, officials continue to look for the driver of the vehicle, which plunged into the Neuse River at around 4 a.m. The single-axle truck was part of a trucking company from Fayetteville. Officials have not yet identified the driver of the truck.

A dive team from Beaufort County searched the Neuse River throughout the day and into the early evening Sunday, but the search was paused Sunday night.

Burkett said the dive team was called off today due to inclement weather.

“However, the North Carolina Wildlife Commission is using their training to see what they can locate or help us in that aspect,” Burkett said.

The fire marshal praised the dozens of workers and volunteers who worked throughout the day on Sunday and Monday.

“A shout-out to all our volunteers, including the Sidney dive team,” Burkett said. “The North Lenoir Fire Department, the Southwood Volunteer Fire Department, Hugo, the city of Kinston Fire Department all responded, as well. We appreciate all their efforts, along with the Highway Patrol and Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office.”

Neuse News Publisher B.J. Murphy contributed to this report.

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