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No one seriously injured in eight-vehicle pileup on I-81 in W.Va.

December 24, 2007|By DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A combination of curiosity, heavy rain and slippery conditions contributed to an eight-vehicle pileup on Interstate 81 south of Martinsburg Sunday afternoon, causing holiday traffic to back up to the Winchester, Va., area, a West Virginia State Police spokesman said.

The pileup occurred about two miles north of the Virginia line as motorists were looking at a small car that went off the interstate and hit a tree, said Trooper Matthew Gillmore.

Six vehicles and two tractor-trailers ended up crashing in the slippery conditions, and one of the tractor-trailers came within about six feet of striking a state police cruiser, Gillmore said.

"It's a miracle no one was killed or seriously injured," Gillmore said.

The northbound lanes were closed for about 2 1/2 hours while officials cleared the scene, Gillmore said.

A woman was driving the car that went off the interstate and struck a tree about a tenth of a mile north of a rest area, Gillmore said.

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Rescue personnel, who were called at 2:07 p.m., were helping the woman and had vehicles parked along the interstate, Gillmore said.

As northbound motorists were coming over a small crest in the road, they came upon the accident scene and began looking at it, Gillmore said.

It was raining hard and the road was slippery as cars began running into each other, he said.

One of the tractor-trailers involved went off the interstate and struck the same tree that the first motorist hit, Gillmore said. The tractor-trailer came within about six feet of a state police cruiser parked at the scene, Gillmore said.

The other tractor-trailer involved hit the rear end of a car, Gillmore said.

The woman driving the car involved in the first accident was the only person injured, and her injuries were not life-threatening, Gillmore said.

Gillmore declined to identify the woman because he had not talked to her about releasing her name.

The northbound lanes were closed at about 2:45 p.m. and one lane of traffic was reopened about 5:15 p.m., Gillmore said.

The pileup topped off a busy holiday weekend for police and rescue officials.

On Friday, 11 people were injured, four of them seriously, in two crashes Friday night on W.Va. 51 west of Charles Town, W.Va. Traffic was heavy with commuters and shoppers when those accidents occurred, officials said.

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