Wind overturns tractor-trailers on I-77

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Virginia state trooper’s car, VDOT safety patrol vehicle damaged by wrecked trucks

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

LAMBSBURG — Two state vehicles were struck and damaged after gusts estimated  at more than 100 mph also knocked over two tractor-trailers Tuesday, according to Virginia State Police reports.
State police and Virginia Department of Transportation officials responded shortly after 3 p.m. when the first incident happened at the familiar spot near the 3 mile marker in the northbound lanes, according to First Sgt. Mike Musser.

There’s a small section of Interstate 77 from the 2.7 to 3.1 mile marker where severe winds blow east from the ridge line down into the Pauls Creek area of Cana, causing reoccurring problems for light tractor-trailers there.
The VDOT safety service patrol blocked the right lane for traffic control and Trooper S.M. Cochran went to get information from the driver.
The owner-operated 2005 Volvo tractor-trailer driven by Darko Jankovic of Des Plaines, Ill., had a relatively light load of 8,000 pounds of plastic bottles inside and tipped over in the wind, slowing other vehicles on the interstate to a crawl.
Not long after, a 2007 Peterbilt belonging to JNJ Express of Memphis, Tenn., was blown over right where the VDOT safety service patrol truck was sitting in the right lane.
This tractor-trailer clipped the left side of the vehicle when it fell, according to the reports. The VDOT worker was inside his truck but was not injured.
A wrecker that had responded went to hook up to the JNJ tractor trailer while still on its side to pull it off onto the shoulder, Musser said. Wind gusts that probably topped 100 mph pushed the Peterbilt before it could be removed, causing it to slide into the left side of Trooper K.D. Blackburn’s patrol vehicle.
Musser described the gust as spinning the tractor-trailer around 30 degrees before it came to a stop.
He estimated the damage to the trooper’s vehicle at around $1,500.
No injuries were reported.
Other areas of Cana were not spared, either.
In addition to the incidents on the interstate, Cana Fire Department volunteers responded to calls of roads being blocked on Fancy Gap Highway, Pauls Creek Road, Bear Trail Road, Orchard Gap Road, Meadowbrook Road and Sandy Ridge Road.
Fallen trees caused the blockages, according to emergency officials.
The Hillsville Fire Department had a report of Poplar Knob Road being blocked.