WYTHE COUNTY, VA – Three semi trailers were involved in a deadly truck accident on a Virginia highway early Monday morning on May 3, 2010. The multi truck collision occurred on Interstate 81 near mile marker 58 in Wythe County, Virginia. The accident area is in the far southeast corner of the state about 65 miles northwest of Mt. Airy, North Carolina and about 92 miles southwest of Roanoke, VA.
At around 3:40 a.m. Monday morning 59 year old Marion F. Dale of Dunn, North Carolina was driving north on Interstate 81 hauling thirty head of cattle from Knoxville, VA to Godwin, NC. As Mr. Dale drove in the vicinity of mile marker 58 he encountered three deer in the roadway and attempted to maneuver around the animals.
The truck driver went off the interstate lanes and onto the center median. When he tried to pull the semi back onto the interstate he apparently lost control and flipped the truck over on its side, blocking lanes of traffic.
A moment later a second semi trailer truck, driven by 38 year old James Collum of Arkansas, came upon the overturned truck and was unable to stop to avoid a collision and plowed into the disabled cattle truck.
A third semi trailer truck next approached the scene of the truck accident. The truck driver, 43 year old Randall T. Hawkins of Tennessee, saw the pile-up and slowed his rig but lost control as he was attempting to steer around the two crashed semi trucks. He overturned his 18 wheeler, coming to a rest besides the first two trucks.
Police and local emergency personnel responded to the scene of the three truck accident. The driver from Arkansas, Mr. Collum, suffered fatal injuries when he hit the overturned cattle truck and he died at the scene according to police.
Mr. Dale, who was driving the cattle truck that first overturned, sustained non life threatening injuries and was stabilized and taken by ambulance to Wythe Community Hospital in nearby Wytheville.
A passenger in the cattle truck, David H. Jones of Wade, NC, suffered more serious injuries. He was first transported to Wythe Community Hospital and then airlifted by medical hospital to Bristol Regional Medical Center in Bristol, VA, about 60 miles away. Police reported that Mr. Jones injuries were considered life threatening.
The driver of the third semi truck, Mr. Hawkins, had minor injuries after the truck accident and was treated at the scene by EMTs and released.
Highway crews were brought in to clear the wreckage of the multi truck accident and other workers helped corral the cattle.
According to police, half of the cattle in the transport trailer died in the truck accident. The surviving cows and bulls were taken to the Wytheville Livestock Market where they will be held until the owners can arrange to pick them up.
Traffic slowed as a section of Interstate 81 was closed in the area around the truck accident scene and automated warning signs alerted northbound traffic to take the detour at Exit 54. The diverted vehicles were sent to Highway 11 and allowed back onto the northbound lanes of I-81 at the Rural Retreat interchange.
At this point Mr. Dale, the driver of the cattle truck, has been cited for “Reckless Driving”.
Other charges may follow pending the conclusion of the truck accident investigation which is still open.
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