At least ten people have been injured in a massive pile-up on Interstate 81 in Virginia on Sunday, August 11.
Officials with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) have posted alerts on Twitter warning motorists of the state of the road after the crash.
The first crash occurred after 5 p.m. before exit 200 on Route 710 in the Fairfield area. The road was closed up to exit 195 on Route 11 in Lexington and Timber Ridge.
“A crash w/ 41 vehicles & 6 tractor-trailers closed both SB lanes at mm 196 in Rockbridge Co,” the VDOT posted online.
Authorities estimate that 41 vehicles have been crashed on the I-81, bringing all southbound lanes to a halt for several hours.
The lockdown was prompted by a two-vehicle collision, the Times Dispatch reports. Some of the tractor-trailer trucks mentioned in the VDOT tweet capsized and were left lying by the side of the road and blocking traffic.
The conditions that evening were rainy, and motorists have described having limited visibility.
“When I got out, and I looked behind us, I was just like, ‘Oh my God.’ Everything that happened up here happened behind us. [...] It could’ve been so much worse,” Shay and Danielle Tippens of North Carolina recall.
“Everything came together there at one time,” Virginia State Police Sgt. A.D. Nicely states.
He has praised the truck drivers for intentionally tilting the vehicles and veering off road as to avoid hitting other cars.
“I believe that decision on their behalf saved us a lot more injuries or fatalities. [...] You don’t know what would have happened when you start having 80,000-pound (40 short tons) vehicles slamming into 2,000-pound (1 short ton) vehicles,” Nicely states.
All the lanes have reopened, the VDOT tweeted just after 8 p.m.
“I-81 Southbound at mile marker 196 has reopened. All travel lanes are clear. Be alert for continued congestion as traffic clears,” they wrote.