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Overturned tractor-trailer closes I-81 northbound at exit 20

December 19, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

SPRING MILLS, W.Va. -- Interstate 81 northbound traffic was stopped for more than two hours Saturday after a tractor-trailer overturned north of Exit 20 (Spring Mills) at about 3:45 p.m. The interstate reopened at 6:25 p.m.

West Virginia State Police were investigating the accident, but the driver was not believed to be seriously injured, according to Stephen S. Allen, director of Berkeley County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Berkeley County Sheriff's Department deputies and the Sheriff's Deputy Reserves were able to begin diverting traffic to U.S. 11 just before 5 p.m. after West Virginia Division of Highways trucks cleared snow from the road.

Sheriff Kenneth M. Lemaster Jr., who helped direct traffic at the Spring Mills exit, said the accident was one of several vehicle-related emergencies reported on I-81, which was snow-covered.

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Some vehicles were left abandoned along roads.

In the Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area, emergency personnel Saturday evening were trying to navigate even more treacherous road conditions to get to a man who was injured when he wrecked an all-terrain-vehicle.

Lemaster was told over the radio the man had back injuries.

Allen said two EMS vehicles became stuck in the snow while responding to calls Saturday.

"Our emergency, fire and law enforcement have been taxed once again," Allen said of the accidents, many involving vehicles that slid off the road.

"It's one more lesson in that when people tell you stay home, stay home," Allen said.

In Martinsburg, sidewalks were reduced to narrow trails, if not abandoned entirely by pedestrians who took to the streets instead.

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