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New Year's Day fatal accident still under investigation

January 03, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

Unanswered questions continue to surround a head-on collision that happened early New Year's Day and left one woman dead.

Cpl. Willie Johnson of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department said that because police have not yet notified the family of the woman killed, her name could not be released.

The wreck was reported at 4:53 a.m. Thursday just after Exit 5 of Interstate 81. A 1989 Pontiac, heading north, went into the median for unknown reasons and then into the southbound lanes, hitting a Honda Passport.

Both cars were mangled and destroyed, Johnson said.

A woman in the Pontiac was ejected and pronounced dead at the scene. A man in the Pontiac and the driver of the Passport, who was alone in his vehicle, were taken to Winchester Medical Center for minor injuries, Johnson said.

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Johnson said he has not been able to determine who was driving the Pontiac. An interpreter fluent in both Spanish and English spoke with the man who was inside the Pontiac. The man said he did not remember what happened, Johnson said.

That man's breath smelled like alcohol and Johnson said he plans to obtain the man's medical records to determine whether he had been drinking.

Although the man said he borrowed the Pontiac from someone who since has returned to Mexico, police still are trying to determine whether that and other statements he gave are true.

"He was saying things that didn't even make sense," Johnson said.

The driver of the Passport was wearing his seat belt and air bags in his car deployed, Johnson said. He declined to release that man's name as well as the name of the man in the Pontiac.

The accident remains under investigation.

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