Galax man dies in crash

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By Brian Funk, Editor

A Galax man died at the scene of a Jan. 23 wreck in North Carolina, after a tractor-trailer’s brakes failed and struck his pickup head-on.

Glenn Roy Shumate, 68, of Forest Lane in Galax, died instantly, according to a N.C. Highway Patrol report.

The accident occurred around 4:30 p.m. in the sharp “Snowbird Curve” on N.C. 89, just south of the Virginia state line — the scene of numerous past accidents.

Trooper J.R. Vindich reported that a tractor-trailer driven by Marvin Patton, 53, of Houston, Tex., was traveling south on 89 when the brakes failed. The truck crossed the center line and struck two northbound vehicles — a Nissan pickup driven by Shumate, and then a Chevrolet van.

Vindich said Shumate died instantly. He said the tractor-trailer was traveling about 65 mph when it hit the pickup.

The two people in the van were not hurt.

After hitting the two vehicles, the tractor-trailer hauling potatoes struck the side of the mountain and burst into flames. The fire, ignited by one of the fuel tanks exploding, caught the truck’s cab and the woods beside 89 on fire.

Patton was able to escape before the fire and was treated for minor injuries.

After he was released from the hospital later that night, N.C. Highway Patrol charged Patton with death by motor vehicle, exceeding a safe speed and driving left of center.

He was held Wednesday night in the Surry County (N.C.) Jail.

The Galax Volunteer Fire Department responded to the scene to assist Skull Camp (N.C.) Fire Department. Galax brought a pumper truck to help put out the fire.

Police closed 89 for several hours to clean up the accident scene.

According to Vindich’s report, the trucking company Patton worked for instructed him to get off Interstate 77 in Hillsville, travel U.S. 58 west to Galax and get on 89 south to reach Charlotte, N.C., because it was a faster route.

A funeral for Shumate will be held Jan. 28.