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

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.


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.


“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 |