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Interstate 81 Southbound Lanes Reopen, Only One Northbound Lane Open After Wrecks

Reported: Mar. 26, 2014 10:48 AM EDT
Updated: Mar. 26, 2014 4:56 PM EDT
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HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. (Jeff Morris) -- State Police said Interstate 81 southbound lanes have reopened, but only one northbound lane is open Wednesday afternoon after two major accidents that claimed the lives of two people and injured 14.

West Virginia State Police Sgt. C. Zerkle said some of those injured in Wednesday morning's accident are in serious but stable condition.

The wrecks occurred after whiteout conditions developed on the interstate during heavy snow, creating a traffic nightmare. State Police said up to 45 vehicles were involved in the wrecks, with
15 to 20 of those vehicles sustaining serious damage.




HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. (Jeff Morris) -- State Police said Interstate 81 northbound and southbound remains shut down Wednesday afternoon after two major accidents that involved up to 45 vehicles and claimed the lives of two people.

"It is such a mess up there, words can't describe it," West Virginia State Police Sgt. C. Zerkle said.

The accidents happened Wednesday morning near mile marker 21 in the Hedgesville area and are being blamed on whiteout conditions from heavy snow, Zerkle said. Five helicopters landed in the area to transport five to seven patients to various hospitals. Zerkle said several of those patients were in serious condition.

State Police estimated at noon that the highway would be closed for four to six hours. The accidents created a traffic nightmare. Zerkle said traffic is backed up into Maryland. Vehicles also are backed up on Route 11, which is being used as an alternative road.

Zerkle said 15 to 20 vehicles sustained serious damages in the crashes, and another 20 to 25 vehicles also were involved in the accidents. All available State Police in the area responded to the interstate crashes.




HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. (Jeff Morris) – State Police said two multiple-vehicle accidents on Interstate 81 in the eastern part of the state have snarled traffic. Two people were killed in one of those wrecks.

State Police said about 8:45 a.m. Wednesday whiteout conditions occurred on I-81 due to heavy snow and wind. Troopers said they are investigating a seven-vehicle crash that resulted on northbound on I-81 at the 21-mile mark. Two confirmed fatalities are reported in the accident, and five to seven people have been flown to various hospitals.

Meanwhile, State Police said the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a 10-vehicle crash with numerous injuries that occurred on southbound I-81 in the same area. I-81 is closed in both directions at this time and will remain closed for two to three until the investigation is complete.

An alternate route has been established, which is Route 11 that parallels I-81. Travel is slow on the alternate route, however, due to heavy traffic volume.

There are signs in place at this time, indicating the alternate route.

Video of I-81 accident scene provided courtesy of Mykel Thompson.






HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. (Jeff Morris) -- Some major accidents have snarled traffic on Interstate 81 in the eastern part of the state.

The state Department of Transportation said on its website that a vehicle accident on southbound I-81 occurred in Berkeley County at mile marker 24. Two of two southbound lanes are closed and two of two northbound lanes are closed

The DOT said travel is not advised and said motorists should be prepared to stop. Emergency vehicles are the road and clearing is in progress.

Meanwhile, the DOT said a vehicle accident on northbound I-81 northbound occurred at mile marker 21, where two of two northbound lanes are closed.

Caution also is advised while traveling through this area.



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