Two die in 75-car pileup on I-77
by Allen Worrell, News Writer
Three multi-vehicle crashes on Interstate 77 in southwestern Virginia have closed the southbound lanes from Wytheville to the North Carolina border. Two fatalities have been confirmed at this time.
Additionally, at 4:57 p.m., Virginia State Police responded to a crash with injuries in the northbound lanes of I-77 at the 7 mile marker in the Fancy Gap area of Carroll County.
State police have determined that a total of 75 vehicles were involved in crashes, to include incidents in both directions of I-77. The vehicles included 39 passenger vehicles and 36 commercial vehicles.
Two people were killed in the crashes. A 57-year-old Pennsylvania man was headed southbound on I-77 when the tractor-trailer he was driving rear-ended a tractor-trailer that had stopped in the road at the 5 mile marker. Robert C. Wiest of Gratz, Penn., died at the scene. At the 4.8 mile marker in the southbound lanes, Marvin D. Miller, 58, of Stanfield, N.C., was involved in a traffic crash. After that initial crash, his 2000 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck was struck in the drivers side by a tractor-trailer. Miller died at the scene.
A total of 16 people were injured, with four of those suffering serious injuries. Injured persons were transported by ambulance to hospitals in Virginia and North Carolina.
Northbound lanes of I-77 have been re-opened. The northbound crashes that occurred just before 5 p.m. at the 7 mile marker ended up being two separate crashes. One crash involved two tractor-trailers, and then a third tractor-trailer ran off into the median. No one was injured in either crash.
Though the northbound lanes are open, VSP are operating what is called a "slow roll." This is where troopers position themselves (with emergency lights activated) in front of the traffic in both lanes and set a safe speed for all traffic to follow behind. This is being done to prevent additional crashes from happening and tying up the northbound travel lanes of I-77, since dense fog is still a problem in the Fancy Gap area.
In the accident on I-77 southbound, least a dozen individuals have been injured and transported to hospitals in Virginia and North Carolina. Heavy fog causing zero visibility for drivers in the Fancy Gap area is to blame.
At 11:39 a.m. Tuesday, Virginia State Police received the first call of a crash involving multiple vehicles in the southbound lanes of I-77 at the 6 mile marker in Carroll County. Within minutes, two more multivehicle crashes were reported in the southbound lanes of I-77 between the 4 and 7 mile markers. One crash involves at least six passenger vehicles and four tractor-trailers. Another crash involves at least two tractor-trailers and four passenger vehicles.
State Police are still in the process of investigating and notifying the next of kin of the two individuals who were killed in the southbound crashes at the 4 mile marker. Neither individual is from Virginia.
Virginia State Police have all available personnel on scene responding to and investigating the crashes.
The southbound lanes of Interstate 77 were reopened shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday under "slow roll" conditions.
State police recommend the following safety tips when having to travel in dangerous road conditions caused by severe fog:
Use your headlights, but avoid using the high beams as the light reflects back off the fog and will impair your visibility even more.
Reduce your speed considerably and stay alert to what traffic is doing in front of you.
Use the right edge of the road or painted road markings as a guide to follow the roadway and move safely through the fog.
Be patient. Never pass lines of stopped traffic.
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