WYTHE COUNTY (WVVA) – The Virginia State Police has released more information regarding Tuesday morning’s deadly string of accidents on Interstate 81 in Wythe County.
Two people were killed and two others injured in the crashes that closed the interstate near the 60-mile marker.
Following is the latest news release from the State Police:
WYTHE CO., Va. – Two individuals were killed and two other individuals were injured in a series of traffic crashes on Interstate 81 near the 60 mile marker in Wythe County Tuesday morning (April 1, 2014).
At 3:23 a.m., Virginia State Police Trooper G.A. Purvis was called to the scene of an overturned tractor-trailer on I-81. The tractor-trailer, which was loaded with laundry detergent, was traveling north on I-81 when it ran off the left side of the road. The tractor-trailer overturned onto its side coming to rest across the median and left southbound lane of I-81. Its driver, Philip O. Emiabata, 53, of Pflugerville, Texas, suffered minor injuries. He was transported to Wythe County Community Hospital for treatment. Emiabata has been charged with reckless driving.
Moments after the first crash, a 2000 Lexus SUV traveling south on I-81 struck the overturned tractor-trailer. The driver, Tanya D. Mann, 56, of Zirconia, N.C., died en-route to the hospital.
Within minutes of that crash, a second tractor-trailer headed north on I-81 struck a piece of guardrail in the roadway that had been damaged in the initial crash. Striking the guardrail caused this tractor-trailer to run off the left side of the road into the median. The tractor-trailer continued down between the north and southbound lanes of I-81, struck the edge of the interstate bridge and fell onto the highway underneath the interstate. When the tractor-trailer crashed onto Black Lick Road/Route 90, it caught fire.
The tractor-trailer’s driver, James R. Anderson, 34, of Decherd, Tenn., died at the scene. Its passenger, Jeremy W. Johnson, 36, of Tracy City, Tenn., was ejected from the sleeper cab and flown to Bristol Regional Medical Center for treatment of life-threatening injuries. This tractor-trailer was loaded with shrubbery.
The crash remains under investigation.