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One killed when SUV collides with tractor trailer

Updated: Thursday, January 10 2013, 05:59 PM EST

Late Thursday morning, the only remnants of the fatal car accident along U.S.-221 was a fuel stain on the road and pieces of the totaled SUV along the shoulder.

"When the Ford Explorer struck the tractor trailer it hit the left diesel fuel tank ... so that's what caused the diesel spill," said North Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper Scott Morrow.

Investigators say 46-year-old Joseph Roach of Cliffside was about one mile from home - between Hines Road and Concord Road - at about 2 a.m. when his red Explorer crossed into the southbound lane.

"Don't know if the subject fell asleep, if it was a medical condition, we have no idea right now," said Morrow.

Investigators say Roach's car veered into oncoming traffic, slamming into a semi truck loaded with metal pipes.

"The tractor trailer came to rest on the southbound shoulder, where the impact was," said Morrow. "The actual Ford Explorer went back across 221 and came to rest on the northbound shoulder."

NCHP said roach died from injuries on the scene. The truck driver - from Bakersville - and a passenger were not injured. Investigators say alcohol does not appear to have been a factor.

"It was a straight grade," said Morrow. "It is in a work construction zone but construction zone was not going on at 2:08 in the morning."

US-221 going both ways was shut down for about five hours while officials worked to clear the wreck and the diesel spill.

Roach's family told officials he had been strugglinh with medical problems, and they were not aware he was out of the house at the time of the accident.

Follow Ashlea Surles on Twitter @AshleaSurles

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One killed when SUV collides with tractor trailer

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