Fatal Interstate 77 wreck occurs in rainstorm

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Couple escapes wreck, but husband killed after returning to car to get cell phone. The vehicle was then struck by two tractor-trailers.

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — An early Friday morning downpour contributed to a wreck with a fatality on Interstate 77 at about 12:50 a.m., according to Virginia State Police Trooper C.H. Campbell Jr.
The incident happened near the 12.5 mile marker when a 2009 Mitsubishi Gallant driven by Susan Petty, 55, of Lexington, S.C., hydroplaned in the rainstorm while traveling north, as the driver attempted to pass a commercial vehicle.
Petty lost control and the vehicle, spun into the guardrail and then back out into the lanes of travel near the center line, facing south.
Petty and her husband, William, 57, were able to exit the vehicle, but William went back into the car to get a cell phone and other items, Campbell said. As he got back in the Mitsubishi, a 2007 International tractor-trailer collided with the car head-on.
The dark blue Mitsubishi was sitting in the middle of the interstate during a rainstorm in the dark, making it difficult to see, Campbell said. “It was totally pouring the rain this morning.”
The tractor-trailer pushed the car down the shoulder for about 100 to 150 yards, before the Mitsubishi ended up in the middle of the northbound lanes again, this time facing north.
That’s when a 2001 Peterbilt tractor-trailer struck the car in the rear, the trooper said. This tractor-trailer went off the right of the interstate and overturned.
William Petty was declared dead at the scene, and Susan Petty was transported to Twin County Regional Hospital for treatment of minor injuries.
Both tractor-trailer drivers refused treatment.
The accident blocked the interstate for about 45 minutes.
No charges were issued, Campbell said.