WEST VIRGINIA (WDVM) — One person is dead after crashing into a tractor-trailer, which caused the car and tractor-trailer to catch on fire early Thursday morning at the 16.4-mile marker of Interstate 81 northbound.
Around 12:42 a.m., Berkeley County Sheriffs responded to I-81 for a two-car crash involving a 2013 Kia sedan and a tractor-trailer. The car caught on fire as a result of the crash, which also involved the back end of the tractor-trailer.
The investigation shows the Kia was traveling north and hit the back of the tractor-trailer which was safely parked on the shoulder of I-81, according to the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office.
The Kia driver was entrapped in the burning car and was pronounced dead on the scene. Due to the severity of the fire and the extent of injuries, officials were unable to positively identify the victim at the scene. The victim was transported for autopsy and has been tentatively identified. However, this information will be withheld pending positive identification by the West Virginia Medical Examiner’s Office.
Meanwhile, the driver of the tractor-trailer was not injured from the crash. The Kia was determined to be a total loss from the fire from the crash and there was also significant damage to the tractor trailer.
This crash closed down I-81 northbound for nearly two hours while the Bedington Volunteer Fire Company, Hedgesville Volunteer Fire Company, and the Martinsburg Fire Department worked to put out the flames.
Sheriff Nathan Harmon says that Thursday’s accident is another example of why safe driving, especially on a notoriously dangerous interstate in the Panhandle, is extremely important.
“We all take the responsibility in regards to driver safety. If we feel tired, get to a restaurant or a stop area, get to a gas station or have a cup of coffee,” “Get out, stretch the legs, and purposefully schedule these stops along your trip, especially if it’s outside the parameters of what you can drive safely one way.”
The roadway was closed down completely for around two hours following the incident and reopened fully at around 6 o’clock and Sheriff Harmon is again stressing the importance of driving cautiously especially on a high traffic road like 81.
The investigation is ongoing and anyone with relevant information is asked to call the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office at (304) 267-7000.