Show off your holiday lights and you could win an iPad! Enter your photo by December 13. Winner will be selected by popular vote.
State police reopened the northbound lanes Sunday night and the southbound lanes around midnight Monday.
This photo from WXII news shows the scene following a 75-vehicle pileup on Interstate 77 near the Virginia-North Carolina border on Sunday. Virginia State Police say three people have been killed and more than 20 are injured and traffic is backed up about 8 miles.
This image provided by WXII Channel 12 news, shows the scene following a 75-vehicle pileup on Interstate 77 near the Virginia-North Carolina borde on Sunday, March 31, 2013. Virginia State Police say three people have been killed and more than 20 are injured and traffic is backed up about 8 miles.
Courtesy Virginia State Police
A wrecker works Sunday to disentangle trucks involved in the massive pileup on Interstate 77.
Courtesy Virginia State Police
Crews work Sunday to sort out burned and crushed vehicles at one of the centers of the pileup along Interstate 77.
Sunday, March 31, 2013
Dense fog near Fancy Gap created the hazardous conditions for a massive chain-reaction pileup on southbound Interstate 77 on Sunday afternoon, one that killed three people and sent dozens more to hospitals, authorities said.
All told, the Virginia State Police counted 95 vehicles in 17 separate crashes, one of the largest along that infamous stretch of roadway known for its harrowing conditions during times of heavy fog or wind. The crashes stopped traffic in both directions for hours, prompting scores of Easter travelers to step out of their cars as they waited for the wreckage to be cleared.
State police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said rescue crews took at least 25 people to area hospitals. Witnesses described seeing a stream of ambulances and tow trucks rush into the area shortly after the pileup.
The crashes occurred about 1:15 p.m. at the base of Fancy Gap Mountain, near mile marker 6 in Carroll County, only six miles north of the North Carolina border. Geller said troopers counted six to eight vehicles at the “epicenter” of the wreckage, where several caught fire. While troopers still are investigating the wrecks, Geller said drivers were traveling too fast for the foggy conditions.
State police did not release the identities of the three people who died in the crashes, saying troopers still were in the process of contacting their relatives.
Nina Rose, 20, and her mother were driving north, back home to Rochester, N.Y., when they encountered the pileup.
“With so much fog, we didn’t see much around it,” Rose said. “As we got farther up, we just saw a bunch of people standing on the median, just with their kids and families all together. There were cars smashed into other cars, and cars just underneath other semi-trucks.”
Rose said they stopped and got out to help people. Her mother, a trained emergency medical technician, checked on small children while she distracted them from the chaos around them.
“I was kind of shaken up at first, but after a while I was able to keep it cool and stay calm for everyone else around,” Rose said. “These two kids we were helping, we helped get them into an ambulance as their grandpa was being flown to a nearby hospital.”
For people who were not injured in the wrecks, but whose vehicles were too damaged to drive, Carroll County Schools buses were used to take them to area hotels.
Darrell Utt, 17, of Moore County, N.C., said he was on his way north to Huntington, W.Va., when he came across the wrecks.
“It was really foggy at first,” he said. “We probably saw over 50 tow trucks. We saw about five cars come down and three semi-trucks. One of them, it didn’t even look like a car, it looked like a chunk of metal.”
Utt said he was stuck in the northbound lanes for about three hours before traffic started moving again. It was, he said, the worst traffic situation he had ever witnessed. Through it, though, he said he was happy that other motorists were sympathetic to the backups.
“There was no road rage or anything. Everyone understood the severity of how bad this was before we even began to figure out what exactly happened,” he said.
Major wrecks along that stretch of interstate near Fancy Gap are not uncommon. Since 1997, there have been at least six such pileups, all of them involving multiple crashes. In several cases, fog was listed as a contributing factor. The crashes on Sunday exacted the highest death toll, though. Two people perished in November 2010 and January 2000 after pileup crashes there.
Authorities reopened the northbound lanes Sunday night and the southbound lanes around 12 a.m. Monday.
Dangerous stretch of road
Recent multivehicle pileups on 1-77 near Fancy Gap
Nov. 16, 2010: 75 vehicles involved, 2 dead, 16 injured
May 21, 2001: 40-50 vehicles, 1 injured
Jan. 18, 2000: 60 vehicles, 2 dead
Oct. 5, 1998: 46 vehicles, 10 injured
Feb. 14, 1997: 65-70 vehicles, 11 injured
Weather JournalWarmth next 2 days hits icy wall