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Two injured in Interstate 81 crash in W.Va.

Accident shuts highway for more than two hours

Accident shuts highway for more than two hours

February 21, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Two people were taken to City Hospital in Martinsburg after the car they were traveling in struck a tractor-trailer in the southbound lanes of Interstate 81 just after noon Wednesday, emergency officials said.

The accident, reported at 12:13 p.m. just north of the interstate bridge over Nipetown Road, shut down all four lanes of the interstate, and the southbound lanes were not reopened to traffic for more than two hours, officials said.

The tractor-trailer driver wasn't injured, according to Bedington Volunteer Fire Department chief Scott Schill, who said the interstate was littered with wreckage and debris from both vehicles.

The car, a BMW, was destroyed except for the passenger compartment frame, which Schill believes helped save the lives of those inside.

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"I'm told by the medics that they will survive," Schill said.

West Virginia State Police, which investigated the accident, said the victims were Janee R. McDaniel, 20, address unavailable, and James Plaisir, 29, of Hagerstown. Sgt. C.C. Morton said their injures were not believed to be life-threatening.

Schill said he believed the accident was at least partially caused by inclement weather. Morton said the car was traveling north and crossed the median into the southbound lane and struck the tractor-trailer.

Stephen S. Allen, director of the county's Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, estimated that nearly 300 gallons of fuel, along with motor oil spilled from the tractor-trailer. The combination made the road surface quite slick, Allen said.

"The guys picked up a great majority of it (with absorbent pads)," Allen said of the cleanup effort by the department's Hazardous Incident Response Unit.

West Virginia Division of Highways officials spread sand on the spill area and Allen said a remediation company was expected to complete the cleanup along the roadway edge.

The Berkeley County Sheriff's Department deputy reserves also assisted with detouring traffic onto U.S. 11.

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