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Kannapolis firefighters aiding I-85 crash victims nearly struck by wrong way driver

The fire department said their crews were helping victims in the winter weather when their firefighters were nearly injured by a drunk driver.

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. — Kannapolis firefighters helping victims of an Interstate 85, multiple-vehicle crash during overnight winter weather Sunday were nearly injured themselves by a drunk, wrong way driver, the fire department said on their Facebook page.

Emergency crews had closed the southbound lanes of Interstate 85 just north of Dale Earnhardt Blvd. to help those injured, including one person who was trapped and needed to be extricated from their vehicle, according to the department. The accused drunk driver entered the highway traveling northbound in the southbound lanes, according to the Facebook post.

"As the driver approached the accident scene, equipment being used, including hydraulic tools and medical supplies, were struck by the driver, while nearly hitting several firefighters along the way," the post reads. "Other firefighters were able to get the vehicle stopped, at which point the driver was taken into custody by NC State Highway Patrol."

No injuries were reported as a result of the accused wrong way driver.

“To be clear, the Kannapolis Fire Department will work tirelessly with our law enforcement partners to ensure that those who make irresponsible decisions that endanger the lives of our first responders will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Kannapolis Fire Department Chief Tracy Winecoff said as part of the post on social media. “We are thankful that no firefighters were injured tonight”.

The patient who had to be extracted from their car after the initial interstate crash was taken to Atrium Cabarrus hospital for treatment of their injuries.

The fire department said they responded to multiple emergencies overnight as a result of the winter weather, which was officially observed to have left upwards of half an inch of accumulated snow in neighboring Salisbury and Mooresville. No measurement was immediately reported Sunday morning from Kannapolis.

RELATED: Woman drove several miles wrong way on I-85 before deadly crash in Davidson County

In September of 2019, a Salisbury woman who drove the wrong way on Interstate 85 for miles sent other drivers swerving off the highway before she crashed head-on into an SUV and died. 

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