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FANCY GAP — Carroll County authorities have launched a criminal investigation of a fatality on Interstate 77 that claimed the life of a local tow truck driver over Memorial Day weekend.
Russell Nelson, 75, owner of Russell’s Garage in Hillsville, was struck by a car and killed on May 25, while answering a call on I-77.
He had been in the towing business for more than 30 years, coworkers said, often responding to help others on the historically dangerous stretch of highway.
According to Carroll County Commonwealth’s Attorney Nathan Lyons, Nelson had parked on the shoulder of the interstate near the 6 milemarker in the northbound lanes to load a disabled vehicle onto his rollback truck around 9 a.m. After he finished loading the vehicle, he was opening the door to get back into his truck when he was suddenly struck by a Volkswagen Rabbit, operated by Jesse Tang of Rural Hall, N.C.
Lyons confirmed that Virginia State Police are conducting a criminal investigation. Officials were still gathering crash data on Tuesday, he said, and Tang had not been charged as of Wednesday.
Nelson was killed close to the same spot on I-77 where, on the southbound side, a series of wrecks in the fog caused a pileup of nearly 100 cars on Easter Sunday. That disaster killed three and injured dozens.
Weather was likely not a factor in the May 25 incident, with clear skies in Carroll County that morning.
• See www.galaxgazette.com for updates to this story as the investigation continues.