About 10:00 a.m. e.s.t., on January 25, 1978, a Kohler Company tractor-semitrailer, carrying a 43,000-lb cargo of feldspar, was southbound on North Carolina Route 226. As it descended a steep grade, braking capability was lost because the brakes were out of adjustment. The operator steered the tractor-semitrailer into the northbound lanes at a blind curve and struck a northbound pickup truck head on. A passenger in the pickup truck was killed; both drivers and a second passenger in the pickup truck were injured.