Woman dies in fiery wreck on I-85 in Guilford Co.

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GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — A woman died in a fiery wreck Tuesday morning on Interstate 85 in Guilford County.

Emerald Padilla, 24, of Raleigh, died in the wreck around 10:35 a.m. in the southbound lanes near Groometown Road. Padilla, the only person in the car, died at the scene.

Padilla’s four-door Infiniti was going too fast for the slick road conditions and hyrdoplaned, troopers said. The car spun around and hit a pole that holds up an overhead sign, witnesses said.

The wreck happened only about 100 yards from the Citgo gas station on Groometown Road. Manager John Tawasha said he was helping a state trooper when the wreck happened.

“A trooper and I were in here when we saw some black smoke. He went outside and realized the car was on fire, and he just ran straight to it,” Tawasha said.

Padilla was trapped in the car. First Sgt. Doug Garland said the trooper tried to get Padilla out car but had to stop the rescue because the vehicle was fully engulfed in flames.

Investigators do not yet know whether Padilla was killed by the impact or fire, Garland said. The medical examiner will determine the cause of death.

Garland said he often sees wrecks when it rains, and he believes all it takes to avoid these wrecks is to slow down.

“We should all be mindful while we are traveling, especially during heavy traffic during the holiday season, to slow down. Especially when there’s rain on the roadways, slow down and do well below the speed limit so you don’t hydroplane,” Garland said.

“I watch wrecks happen out here every time it rains. If they would just slow down a little bit,” Tawasha said.