Teens walk away from fiery crash on I-77

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

FANCY GAP — A 2007 Subaru hydroplaned on Interstate 77 near the 9 mile marker on July 11, tumbled down a ravine and burst in flames — but the three occupants inside walked away almost unscathed.

Alana Louise Gibson, 16, of Riegelsville, Pa., was heading north on the interstate with her two sisters in the vehicle, according to Virginia State Police Trooper J.A. Vaughan.

"They came up on a real heavy thunderstorm," the trooper said. "Their vehicle hydroplaned and went off the road to the left, striking the guardrail."

The Subaru bounced off the guardrail back across the road to the right, rolled down the steep ravine, flipping several times, and caught on fire after it came to a stop.

All three occupants were wearing their seatbelts at the time of the accident.

They were able to get clear of the vehicle before it burned up completely, Vaughan said. The Subaru was totaled.

Only one of the occupants was even remotely injured, the trooper said. All she needed was a couple of Band-Aids on her shoulder.

"I tell you, that's unbelievable," the trooper said. "I've never seen a wreck of that nature and not seen somebody injured or killed."

None of the people involved even needed to be transported to the hospital.

They were returning home after a vacation to Hilton Head, N.C., with their family, Vaughan said. The mother and father were following behind the Subaru, but they were too far back to see the accident.

"Seatbelts do save lives," Vaughan said. "And I'd say the good Lord was looking after them, too."