Two flown to hospital after crash on southbound I-81 near Martinsburg

June 05, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Two people were flown by helicopter to Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va., on Tuesday after the van in which they were riding struck a tractor-trailer tanker and another tractor-trailer on Interstate 81 south of Martinsburg, according to the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office.

The driver and passenger in the van sustained life-threatening injuries, according to the sheriff’s office.
Sheriff Kenneth Lemaster said at least one of the injured, a male, appeared to be lucid at the scene of the crash just south of Exit 12, but their medical conditions were unknown Tuesday night.

The names of the injured were not immediately released because family members had not been notified, according to the sheriff’s office.

The truck drivers were not injured and were able to drive the vehicles from the scene of the accident, which was reported at 12:01 p.m.


The accident occurred in an area where I-81 narrows from three lanes to two, according to police and emergency dispatchers.

Police said the van appeared to have tried to cut in front of one of the trucks and was clipped. That contact propelled the van sideways, across the middle lane of I-81 and into the slow lane, where it struck the other truck, police said.

That impact “pingponged” the van back into the first truck that it struck and then back into the other truck merging onto I-81, sheriff’s office Lt. W.A. Johnson said in a news release.

Police said one of the trucks was in the middle lane to allow the other truck to merge into the slow lane.

As the two trucks were coming together in their respective lanes, the van ran out of room in the third lane that ends just after Exit 12, police said in the  release.

The end of the third lane is well marked, police said.

The crash shut down the southbound lanes of I-81 for about an hour, Lemaster said. Traffic was reduced to one lane for another 30 minutes, and traffic at Exit 12 also was detoured, he said.

Southbound traffic on I-81 was backed up for several miles north of the accident scene, and traffic though Martinsburg was heavy as motorists took alternate southbound routes.

The Baker Heights Volunteer Fire Department, Berkeley County Emergency Ambulance Authority and West Virginia Division of Highways joined several sheriff’s deputies in responding to the crash, Lemaster said.

The Herald-Mail Articles