11 February 2011
5 hospitalized in third recent crash on I-81 near Raphine

BY CHASE PURDY
The News Virginian

RAPHINE -- A four-vehicle crash on Thursday clogged Interstate 81 near Raphine around rush hour and sent five people to the hospital, police said.

Witnesses said the wreck started when a northbound tractor-trailer attempted to pass a cluster of slowing cars. In the process, the driver of the truck struck a similar tractor-trailer and two passenger vehicles, witnesses and authorities said.

“The speed was just unbelievable,” said KC Smith, of Chesterfield. “It had to be 70-75 mph, easy.”

The crash marked the third wreck on I-81 between Raphine and Greenville in two days. Virginia State Police responded to two afternoon crashes on Wednesday, one of which required a Roanoke HAZMAT team to assist in the cleanup, authorities said.

Trooper W.H. Reid said the Thursday crash occurred at about 4:20 p.m. after tractor-trailer truck driver George Petrick, 47, of Plant City, Fla., attempted to pass slowing vehicles.

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Half of a tan Pontiac sat in the middle of the interstate, the back half crushed beyond recognition. About 50 feet away, the blue, Florida-based tractor-trailer sat slumped over the median embankment, its engine hood missing and bits of machinery scattered across the grass.

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“I’ve seen nine people get killed this year,” Doug said. “The guy in the blue [truck] passed me — he was just flying. He went around me and then all hell broke loose.”

Smoking a cigarette and shaking his head, he said he and his cargo — 39,000 pounds of New Jersey-bound chicken — managed to slow to a stop without hitting anyone. He blew some smoke behind him, where miles of cars stood motionless.


Read the rest of the story at The News Virginian.

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posted by Chase at 9:22 PM |


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