The North Carolina Department of Public Safety said David A. Woods stole a truck belonging to the City of Lowell and was reported missing at 12:50 p.m. The truck later crashed alongside Interstate 85 in Gaston County, flipping multiple times along the side of the road and landing in a ditch, Charlotte ABC affiliate WSOC reported. Woods was killed in the accident.
"I seen that truck just going in the air and just flipping over, over, and over and going into this ravine right there," eyewitness Ruth Varney told WSOC. "And then after that I'd seen a bunch of smoke and dirt and everything. It was pretty devastating."
The southbound side of the highway was shut down for a time as officials investigated the crash, Gastonia police said.
Woods was serving a life sentence after being convicted of second-degree murder in May 1995, according to the Department of Public Safety.
The North Carolina Division of Prisons said it would investigate the circumstances of Woods' escape.