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Rain brings spate of wrecks

August 27, 1999|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Rain clouds that settled over the Tri-State area Wednesday created an added hazard for motorists driving on roads that had not seen much rain in months.

Oil and gas that soaks into roadways led to slick pavement when the rainfall forced it to the surface, West Virginia State Police Sgt. J.A. Humphrey said.

"Any time you have dry weather, it makes for rough driving conditions when the rain comes," Humphrey said. "The drought made it that much worse."

State police at the Martinsburg detachment received about 15 accident calls over six hours Wednesday after motorists began sliding around roads in the rain, Humphrey said.

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"They were running one wreck after another," he said.

The most serious accident happened just before 9 p.m. Wednesday near Hedgesville, W.Va., when two cars collided head-on in the eastbound lane of W.Va. 9, Humphrey said.

Matthew J. Perkey, 19, of Hedgesville, was headed toward Martinsburg when his Jeep Cherokee and a Chevrolet Z-24 driven by Beverly Trexler, 19, of Falling Waters, W.Va., collided, Humphrey said.

Perkey was listed in fair condition at Martinsburg City Hospital Thursday and Trexler was released after treatment, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The accident was still under investigation Thursday.

Most of the accidents in Berkeley County happened on W.Va. 9 near Butts Mill Road in the Hedgesville area, including one in which a driver struck a utility pole just before 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Derek M. O'Donnell, 17, of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., was not injured in the accident, Humphrey said.

While Pennsylvania State Police in Chambersburg, Pa., did not log a big increase in the number of accident calls, state police in Hagerstown handled 11 accidents between 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. Wednesday.

"I'm not sure if it was oil on the roads or people not slowing down to compensate for the wet conditions," Maryland State Police Sgt. David Kloos said.

None of the accidents was serious, but Kloos said drivers need to remember to slow down and give other drivers more space in inclement weather.

"You can't drive at the same speeds you do on a sunny day," he said.

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