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Charges issued in chain-reaction crashes

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By Shaina Stockton

Names and charges were released Monday morning as the result of multiple accidents that occurred within two-tenths of a mile of each other on Interstate 77 in Carroll County last Friday.

According to Virginia State Police 1st Sgt. Mike Musser, the string of incidents began at 4:30 a.m. on Aug. 1, in the southbound lane between mile markers 2.6 and 2.8.

The first accident involved a 1999 Volvo tractor-trailer, operated by Jeremy Lucas of Lakeland, Fla. According to Musser, Lucas was operating the flatbed, loaded with large pieces of aluminum, when an unidentified passenger vehicle in front of him lost control in the rain.

To avoid a collision, Lucas jammed on his brakes, causing the tractor-trailer to jackknife and spill his load of aluminum on the highway. This caused an immediate stand-still and back-up of traffic on the interstate, Musser said.

Soon after, a 2006 Humvee, operated by Jeffrey Roy of St. Albans, W.Va., came up on the congested traffic and collided with a 2008 Pontiac SUV operated by Alex White of Hurricane, W.Va. The collision forced the Pontiac forward into the back of a 1995 Peterbuilt tractor-trailer, operated by Billy Royal of North Wilkesboro, N.C.

The first two wrecks resulted in no injuries, Musser said.

Around the same time, a 2001 Volvo tractor-trailer, operated by Ronald Smith of Radford, approached the traffic jam around the curve at mile marker 3. “He saw the stopped traffic, and swerved left to avoid striking anyone,” Musser said. As a result, the trailer went into the median, struck the embankment and overturned onto its right side.

Smith sustained injuries in the accident, and was transported to Northern Hospital of Surry County in North Carolina.

A similar incident occurred with another tractor-trailer, as well. “The same as Mr. Smith, [the other driver] came around the curve, ran off the left side and into the median,” said Musser. “He didn’t strike anything, but there was some damage to the undercarriage of the tractor, so it had to be removed from the median.”

As a result of the incident, one lane of the interstate remained closed until noon as the aluminum was cleared off of the road. Traffic was backed up for several miles, Musser said. “At one point, traffic was backed up as far [north on 77] as Poplar Camp.”

He noted that a few secondary collisions resulted from the backups, but no significant damage or injuries were reported.

Lucas received one charge of reckless driving for failure to maintain control of his vehicle.