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Two injured, one killed, in motorcycle wrecks

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State police blame uneven paving on I-77

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

 After three motorcycle crashes — one resulting in death — at a paving site on Interstate 77 in Carroll County, Virginia State Police are warning motorists to use caution at near the 9 and 10 mile markers in the northbound lanes.

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Three serious accidents have occurred in the construction zone since Oct. 15, within a mile of each other, noted Sgt. S.E. Lowe, state police spokesman. 

"We had three crashes in three days, almost in the same vicinity, where this paving operation is going on," he said.

These statistics so concerned the state police, First Sgt. Mike Musser met with representatives of the Virginia Department of Transportation and the construction company after the third such accident Monday morning, to see what could be done to improve the situation, Lowe said.

The first accident occurred Friday at 6:28 p.m., northbound near the 9 mile marker, Lowe said. James Baker Leslie, 31, of Orange City, Fla., was operating a 1998 Honda motorcycle when he lost control.

Leslie had been heading north in the left lane when he entered into the construction zone, where one lane had been prepped for paving and the other had been completed.

Leslie attempted to change to the right lane, where the pavement was uneven, and lost control and crashed.

Emergency crews took Leslie to Twin County Regional Hospital for treatment. Lowe was not sure of his condition on Monday.

Larry A. Reed, 59, of Charleston, W.Va., died as the result of his injuries after he lost control of his 2005 Harley Davidson Ultra Classic on Sunday at 4:05 p.m. near the 9.5 mile marker, Lowe said. It appeared Reed also attempted to change from the left to the right lane, causing him to lose control.

And Monday at 7:30 a.m., Billy E. Damron, 65, of Akron, Ohio, lost control of the 1999 BMW motorcycle he was riding at the 10 mile marker northbound, Lowe said. Damron lost control, skidded into the guardrail and then was struck by another vehicle.

Lowe believed that Rebecca Ferrell of Ararat attempted to avoid the out-of-control motorcycle, but could not.

The accident remained under investigation.

Damron was flown by helicopter from the interstate for treatment. Lowe described his injuries as serious.

Virginia State Police officials wanted to caution motorists — especially motorcyclists — to take precautions when approaching a construction area, Lowe said. Pay attention to the construction signs, reduce speeds and stay in the same lane — even if it's the rough one.

"We encourage motorcycle riders to do that for sure," he said.