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Tractor-trailer spill snarls W.Va. traffic

November 04, 1997

By DON AINES

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - West Virginia State Police said traffic on northbound Interstate 81 was snarled for hours and backed up for miles after a tractor-trailer rolled over Tuesday morning and was struck broadside by another rig, spilling clothing across the roadway.

The accident happened at about 5 a.m. near the 11-mile marker, police said.

Roland Grigg, 44, of Graham, N.C., was driving a Swift Transportation truck northbound when he lost control of the tractor-trailer, going off the eastern side of the road.

Grigg tried to regain control, but the cab skidded into the median and the trailer tipped over, blocking both lanes, the report said.

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A Consolidated Freight tractor-trailer driven by Merle Bixler, 51, of York, Pa., was unable to stop and struck the trailer, splitting it in half and scattering its load of clothes, shoes and bedsheets.

Grigg and his passenger, James Owen, 48, of Greer, S.C., had minor injuries. Bixler also had minor injuries, as did his passenger, Charles Burchfield, 42, of Larusso, Md., according to state police.

All three men were treated and released from City Hospital in Martinsburg, a hospital spokeswoman said.

"Traffic was backed up at one point for several miles," said Sgt. Rob Blair. He said at least one front-end loader was brought in to scoop up the clothing and debris.

The accident blocked the northbound lanes of the interstate for about two hours, according to Blair. Traffic was then opened up to one lane. Both lanes were open at 12:16 p.m., Blair said.

No charges had been filed as of Tuesday afternoon. The accident is being investigated by Troopers T.C. Kearns and C.A. Mahood.

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