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Two killed, five injured in I-81 crash

July 08, 1999|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - An 8-year-old New Jersey girl and her aunt were killed in an Interstate 81 accident that snarled traffic around Martinsburg for more than two hours Wednesday afternoon.

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Bharvi Shah, 8, of Clifton, N.J., and Rita Parikh, 40, of San Jose, Calif., died after the car in which they were riding struck a tractor-trailer and flipped several times in the median of I-81 just north of the King Street exit, West Virginia State Police said.

Five other people in the car were taken to Martinsburg City Hospital with injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening, police said.

"Any time you have a fatality it's hard, but when a child is involved it makes it a lot harder," State Police Sgt. Deke Walker said.

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The accident happened around 1 p.m. when a 1999 Buick Century driven by Parikh ended up on the median strip while she was trying to pass a tractor-trailer, police said.

Parikh steered the car back onto the road but lost control and hit a tractor-trailer carrying a truckload of diapers, police said.

The Buick hit the truck several times and went under it before going out onto the median strip, police said.

The car flipped several times, throwing five people into the grassy median, before the car came to rest on its wheels in the southbound lanes of I-81, police said.

Shah and her mother, Diptibeen Shah, 38, of Clifton, were thrown from the car, along with Bharvi Shah's brother, Platik Shah, 12, of Clifton, and Parikh's two sons, Praney, 14, and Raxit, 8, both of San Jose, police said.

Rita Parikh and her husband, Anjaa Parikh, 41, of San Jose, were trapped in the car and had to be cut from the wreckage by rescue crews, police said.

Bharvi Shah was pronounced dead at the scene and Rita Parikh was pronounced dead at Martinsburg City Hospital, police said.

Diptibeen Shah was taken from Martinsburg City Hospital to Fairfax INOVA Hospital in Virginia, according to a nursing supervisor at Martinsburg City Hospital.

Anjaa Parikh was listed in satisfactory condition at Martinsburg City Hospital Wednesday evening, according to a nursing supervisor.

Platik Shah, Praney Parikh and Raxit Parikh were released from Martinsburg City Hospital after treatment, according to a nursing supervisor.

The driver of the tractor-trailer, Tommy L. Wilson, 50, of Hurst, Texas, was uninjured in the accident, police said.

The people who were thrown from the Buick apparently were not wearing seat belts, Walker said.

The crash closed the northbound and southbound lanes of I-81 for about 40 minutes following the crash, police said.

A single lane in each direction was opened by 2 p.m. and both sides were reopened by 3 p.m., police said.

Interstate traffic was directed through the City of Martinsburg, backing up city streets as tractor-trailers, buses and cars made their way onto Queen Street to the I-81 interchange at W.Va. 9.

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