By Emily Leventhal

A three-vehicle accident on I-81 northbound in Rockbridge County Sept. 18 morning injured one and closed the highway for three hours.

The accident was a combination of two separate crashes, the state police said. The first crash was reported around 8:45 a.m. when a green Nissan SUV lost control and struck a guardrail near mile marker 190. Soon after, a white commercial van stopped to assist, police said. While the drivers were sitting in the van, an 18-wheel tractor-trailer swerved in an attempt to avoid the car and van, jackknifed, and struck the car.

The Nissan driver was taken to Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital, treated for minor injuries and released, police said. The driver of the tractor-trailer was charged with failure to obey lane markings, police said.

This van was struck by a tractor-trailer after the driver had helped someone else involved in a separate, one-car accident. Photo by Robert Foresman.

Traffic was backed up for three to four miles, and as much as five at its worse, said Rockbridge County Emergency Management Coordinator Robert Foresman. Both lanes were reopened by 11:35 a.m., when cleaning crews finished working.

Several hundred feet of guardrail were torn up in the accident, although the road was not damaged.

Police said the accident was possibly weather-related, citing heavy rains and standing water on the highway.

The 60-miles stretch of I-81 from Christiansburg to Rockbridge County has a history of weather-related crashes, Foresman said. This year, there have been four large weather-related crashes on that stretch of the highway — in addition to around 20 smaller accidents. Foresman attributes the number of crashes to being the only section with “very tight turns” and deep gullies as parts of the median.

Police also responded Tuesday to an overturned UPS freight truck on I-81 in Montgomery County near mile marker 127, Virginia State Police Spokesperson Sgt. Robert Carpentieri said.

This overturned tractor-trailer collided with the two other cars while they were already on the side of the road. Photo by Robert Foresman.


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