64-year-old man dies after being struck by tractor-trailer on I-81 in W.Va.

June 28, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A New Jersey pedestrian died early Friday after being struck by a tractor-trailer on Interstate 81 north of Exit 12 in Martinsburg, the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office said.

Dominic Okereke, 64, of Hamilton, N.J., was found dead in a grassy area between the northbound lanes of I-81 and Martin’s Food Market, sheriff’s Deputy Lt. Gary Harmison said.

The truck driver, Tony Cromartie, 32, of Charlotte, N.C., was cited for failure to render aid and failure to report a motor vehicle accident, which occurred at about 2:30 a.m. in the northbound lanes, deputies said.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office notified the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office at about 8 a.m. that a tractor-trailer in its jurisdiction had struck a human or animal, deputies said.

A tow truck driver who towed the vehicle from the 13-mile marker of I-81 in West Virginia to a Hagerstown-area shop spotted blood on the truck, Harmison said.

The truck, a FedEx carrier from North Carolina, became overheated after the collision, Harmison said.

When questioned, the truck driver told police in Washington County that he thought he struck an animal in the area of the 11- and 14-mile markers in Berkeley County while traveling northbound on I-81 at about 2:30 a.m., deputies said.

The appearance of the body, which was sent for an autopsy, appeared to jibe with the time of the crash that the driver provided, Harmison said. 

Okereke was wearing a yellow shirt and purple tie and was possibly carrying a suit-like blazer when he was struck, Harmison said.

The family of Okereke, who was a native of Africa, told police they had not spoken with Okereke since Thursday, when he left New Jersey to promote his book in Washington, D.C., Harmison said.

Harmison said it appears Okereke wrote a book that is available on titled “Africa’s Quiet Revolution Observed from Nigeria,” which was published last year. Harmison said police were told that Okereke had a made a number of trips to Africa.

Okereke was supposed to have taken a bus when he left New Jersey for Washington, but police found an Amtrak train stub in his pocket with Washington, D.C. as the final stop, Harmison said.

He had no luggage or vehicle, Harmison said.

“How he ended up in Martinsburg, we have no idea,” Harmison said.

The accident remains under investigation, Harmison said.

Anyone with information on the incident may call Harmison at 304-267-7000 or Berkeley County Crime Solvers at 304-267-4999.

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