BOTETOURT COUNTY, Va. – Traffic near the scene of a fatal accident on I-81 South is back to normal following an early-morning tractor-trailer crash. According to police, the crash occurred at 5:18 a.m. and involved two tractor-trailers and a pickup truck.
Authorities say the accident occurred when a pickup truck struck a tractor-trailer that was illegally parked on the right side of the road. Following the initial crash, the pickup truck came to rest in the roadway and then another tractor-trailer heading south on I-81 hit the pickup truck.
Within 10 minutes of arriving on scene, the Troutville Volunteer Fire Department pulled the trapped driver of the pickup truck. The driver was transported to Roanoke Memorial Hospital, where police say he later died. State troopers are currently working to notify the driver’s next of kin.
Crews on the scene also handled a hazmat situation caused by a diesel fuel leak coming from one of the tractor-trailers.
Virginia State Police Sgt. Richard Garletts said the driver of the first tractor-trailer involved in the crash had intentionally pulled over and parked on the side of the road at mile marker 158 on I-81 South in order to sleep, which is illegal.
While federal law reportedly requires commercial drivers to pull over and rest once they drive a certain number of hours, they are supposed to pull into a designated truck stop rather than the side of the highway.
Garletts says the tractor-trailer driver received four tickets following the crash for reasons such as parking along I-81 to sleep illegally and not leaving fluorescent markers around the vehicle to warn other drivers of the truck’s location.
Traffic on I-81 South was backed up for two miles following the accident and traffic was routed off the interstate on U.S. Routes 11 South and 460 West before being directed back onto I-81 at mile marker 156.
This is the second fatality in that area resulting from similar circumstances, according to Garletts.
The accident is still under investigation by Virginia State Police.
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