UPDATE 9:39 a.m. (3/10/22): Virginia State Police released new information about Wednesday morning’s eight-vehicle crash in Rockbridge County that left one person dead, many people injured, and I-81 South shut down for nearly 10 hours.
According to police, at approximately 6:11 a.m. on Wednesday, a 2015 Honda Civic made an unsafe lane change around mile marker 198 on I-81 South, moving from the left lane to the right lane while traveling at a low speed without lights.
Authorities say the Civic was hit by a tractor-trailer, which then jack-knifed and was struck by multiple vehicles and tractor-trailers. At the end of this chain reaction, a total of four tractor-trailers and four passenger vehicles were involved in the pile-up.
The driver of a 2016 Freightliner tractor-trailer — identified by officials as 63-year-old Consorcio Velasco-Nolasco of Alvarado, Texas — was wearing his seatbelt, but he died at the scene. Velasco-Nolasco’s Freightliner crashed into the jackknifed tractor-trailer before it was hit by at least one passenger vehicle and another tractor-trailer.
Police say there were injuries in all eight of the vehicles involved in the crash. These people were brought to multiple hospitals with a range of injuries, but there is no word on the total count at this time.
Authorities tell WFXR News that area around mile marker 198 on I-81 South was closed from 6:11 a.m. until 3:57 p.m. while crews worked to clear the crash debris and spilled diesel fuel, which covered the roadway for at least two tenths of a mile. In addition, two of the tractor-trailers lost their loads during the wreck, which also complicated the clean-up efforts.
The Virginia State Police Crash Reconstruction Team, Motor Carrier Team and the Bureau of Criminal Investigation helped to determine the sequence of events in the crash, which is still under investigation.
UPDATE 4:38 p.m.: All southbound lanes are reopened on I-81 South in Rockbridge County after a deadly multi-vehicle crash from Wednesday morning.
The crash, which happened at mile marker 198.6 around 6:15 a.m., reportedly involved four tractor-trailers and four passenger vehicles.
Authorities tell WFXR News a driver was having car trouble, but their lights went out as they tried to pull over to the shoulder. The car was moving slowly when other vehicles hit it or crashed trying to avoid it.
According to Virginia State Police, a truck driver trying to avoid the pile-up was killed in the wreck.
Police also say multiple drivers have been taken to the hospital after the multi-vehicle crash, all with pretty bad injuries, including a pregnant mother of twins.
Crews did not reopen the interstate until around 4 p.m. on Wednesday, saying that drivers can still expect delays and should use caution on I-81 South and Route 11.
UPDATE 12 p.m.: Crews are working to clear the scene of Wednesday morning’s deadly eight-vehicle crash in Rockbridge County, which has closed off I-81 South for hours and delayed traffic for miles.
According to VDOT, all southbound lanes are still closed at mile marker 198.6 because of this multi-vehicle crash, creating a backup of nearly nine miles.
Officials have yet to provide an estimate of when I-81 South will be reopened, saying that crews are still working to remove spilled cargo, such as lumber and water bottles, from the interstate. As a result, traffic is being detoured off I-81 South at exit 200, onto Route 710, onto Route 11 South, and back onto I-81 South at exit 195.
There is also a tractor-trailer crash near the end of the Rockbridge County backup — more specifically, at mile marker 206.5 of I-81 South in Augusta County. However, only the right shoulder is closed at this time.
UPDATE 8:26 a.m.: Virginia State Police tell WFXR News at least one person is dead after eight vehicles were involved in a crash in Rockbridge County Wednesday morning, shutting down I-81 South and causing a miles-long backup.
According to Sgt. Rick Garletts, four tractor-trailers and four passenger vehicles were involved in the crash, which took place at 6:15 a.m. on Wednesday.
Other than the fatality, there is no word on the condition of the people who were in those vehicles.
Garletts says I-81 South is expected to stay closed at mile marker 198.6 for a substantial amount of time while crews clear the debris from the road.
VDOT Staunton says this will be an extensive cleanup effort, with cargo from at least one of the tractor-trailers spilled onto the roadway.
If you can’t avoid this area, motorists are encouraged to divert at exit 213 in Greenville and taking Route 11 to Lexington. Major congestion is expected on Route 11 as drivers divert from the interstate.
UPDATE 7:35 a.m.: Traffic is backed up for miles on I-81 South in Rockbridge County due to a crash involving multiple tractor-trailers, as well as other vehicles.
VDOT’s Staunton District says the crash was reported shortly after 6 a.m. on Wednesday, March 9 at mile marker 198.6, which led to both southbound lanes being closed on I-81.
The department urges motorists to avoid the area, saying there is already a two-mile backup from the scene of the wreck.
For the time being, traffic can divert onto Route 11 (Lee Highway) at either exit 200 at Fairfield or exit 205 at Raphine, then get back on I-81 South at exit 195 at Lexington.
ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Motorists should expect major delays in Rockbridge County Wednesday morning due to a multi-vehicle crash along I-81 South.
According to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), all southbound lanes are closed at mile marker 198.6 of I-81.
The department’s traffic cameras show at least three tractor-trailers involved in the crash.
VDOT’s Staunton District says traffic will be detoured, but motorists are asked to avoid the area.
This is a developing story.