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Accident clogs Interstate 81

June 22, 1998|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

by RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

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I-81 accident

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A chain-reaction accident on Interstate 81 in West Virginia injured two people and snarled traffic Monday afternoon.

The accident involving two tractor-trailers, a car and a minivan caused delays in the northbound and southbound lanes for about 90 minutes, according to Senior Trooper R.T. Dyroff.

The accident happened at about 3:20 p.m. on northbound I-81 near exit 16, Dyroff said.

A green Mercury Cougar, driven by Mary Owens, 56, of Falling Waters, W.Va., started the chain of events, he said.

Owens' car was traveling at about 60 mph when she switched from the right lane into the left lane, about 11/2 car lengths in front of a Whirlpool tractor-trailer, then hit the brakes, Dyroff said. The brakes locked on the truck, driven by Kenneth Dombroski, 37, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., and it skidded to the right, he said.

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A gold Toyota Previa minivan, driven by Timothy Cobb, 33, of Winchester, Va., went to the left to try to avoid the truck and collided with the Cougar, which had almost come to a stop on the left shoulder, Dyroff said.

A Coca-Cola delivery truck, driven by Steven Evans, 27, of Goshen, Va., hit the van, forcing it into the car, then continued into the back of the Whirlpool truck, he said.

The Coca-Cola truck ended up crashing through a guardrail and resting across the median strip.

Owens and a passenger, Katherine Reid, 86, of Williamsport, were taken to City Hospital in Martinsburg, where they were treated and released, according to a nursing supervisor.

Owens was cited for making an improper lane change, Dyroff said.

No one else was taken to the hospital from the scene, he said.

The Coca-Cola truck, en route from Staunton, Va., to York, Pa., was carrying a full load of soda, Evans said.

The weight made it more difficult for Evans to stop the truck, according to Dyroff.

The Whirlpool truck was heading to Carlisle, Pa., from Harrisonburg, Va., Dombroski said.

Cobb, who was on his way to work, said he thought he had managed to avoid getting involved in the accident when the truck struck his van and it overturned.

"I'm lucky. I've got two little girls. I'm so glad they weren't with me," Cobb said.

Two other accidents on I-81 added to delays Monday afternoon, according to state police, but no information was available.

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