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Collision between car and tractor-trailer snarls northbound i-81 in W.Va.

May 21, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A two-vehicle crash involving a tractor-trailer and a Mini Cooper clogged traffic on the northbound lanes of Interstate 81 in Berkeley County for about six hours Tuesday, according to police and emergency officials.

There were no injuries in the accident, which was reported at about 11:25 a.m., the West Virginia State Police and a Berkeley County 911 Central Dispatch supervisor said.

The driver of the maroon 2003 Kenworth truck was Frank Harris of Pennsylvania and the driver of a green 2004 Mini Cooper coupe was identified as Easley Abraham III of North Carolina, police said.

Police said the crash occurred about one mile south of Exit 20 for Spring Mills, W.Va.

The northbound lanes were shut down for about an hour while the tractor and the trailer it was hauling were towed from the scene, police said.

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One northbound lane of the highway remained closed while damaged sections of guardrail were replaced with a concrete barrier, police said. 

Traffic was at a standstill on Interstate 81 northbound late Tuesday afternoon, more than four hours after the crash, a central dispatch supervisor said.

Shortly after 4 p.m., traffic was backed up for at least seven miles beyond exit 12 (W.Va. 45) south of Martinsburg.

The tractor-trailer was carrying palettes of latex, water-based paint, which spilled after it went off the highway, said Eddie Gochenour, deputy director of the Berkeley County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

After the tractor-trailer merged into the left hand lane and struck the passenger car there, police said Harris lost control, left the highway on the east side and then overturned on an embankment. State Police Cpl. Z.L. Nine, who investigated the crash, noted that the trailer’s roof was crushed and its contents were lying on the ground, police said.

Gochenour said the spilled paint was less of an immediate environmental concern than the fuel that leaked from the truck when it was being removed from the crash site, Gochenour said. 

Emergency responders accessed the truck by using Knipetown Road, Gochenour said. 

The accident was in an area of I-81 that is being widened to six lanes, officials said. State Police troopers were assisted by Bedington Volunteer Fire Department, Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office, West Virginia Division of Highways and hazardous material team officials. 

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