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Canton man fights for his life after smashing his truck into an 18-wheeler

Photo credit: WLOS Staff

A Canton man is fighting for his life after smashing his pickup truck into the back of an 18-wheeler on I-40, snarling traffic for hours Wednesday morning.

James Tyler Ledbetter, who goes by Tyler, was driving westbound on I-40 just before the weigh station at mile marker 41, near Smokey Park Highway.

Witnesses tell News 13 Ledbetter drifted from the left lane through the right lane and into the off-ramp for the weigh station, where he clipped the back tailguard bars of an 18-wheeler that was waiting in line to be weighed.

Troopers say the 27-year-old Pisgah High School alum likely fell asleep at the wheel, because there were almost no skid marks before impact.

Ledbetter's fiancee, Felecia Buckner, told News 13 that Tyler works 3rd shift at Giles Chemical, and was on his way home after work.

Troopers charged Ledbetter with cited with careless & reckless driving and not wearing a seat belt. He was ejected from the truck on impact.

Doctors told family that as of 2 pm on Wednesday, Ledbetter's vital signs were stable, but he is in critical condition. He has severe head trauma and his spleen was ruptured and had to be removed.

Buckner said Ledbetter's truck was well-known in Canton, full of bells & whistles that helped him win some car competitions with it.


Interstate 40 was closed for an extended amount of time while rescue workers responded to the crash. Just before 8:30 a.m. the road was reopened.


The crash impacted traffic across the area. Back-ups were reported on Interstate-40 westbound near the I-40 junction and along Smokey Park Highway near I-40.


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