Interstate 64 sees multiple crashes, including fatal accident in New Kent

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Multiple crashes on I-64 Wednesday, including fatal accident in New Kent.

It was a troublesome, and in one case deadly, Wednesday on Interstate 64 across the Peninsula.

One person was killed and another taken to the hospital in a five-vehicle crash involving two tractor-trailers on eastbound I-64 in New Kent County in the morning, a Virginia State Police official said.

The crash was one of at least four major accidents as rain fell sporadically throughout the day.

Troopers were called to the scene in New Kent just after 9:20 a.m., Virginia State Police spokeswoman Deborah Cox said in a news release.

Investigators determined that the crash happened after eastbound traffic slowed because of a disabled vehicle at mile marker 214, Cox said.

A tractor-trailer approached the slowed traffic and struck a pickup truck in the right lane, causing it to spin and strike a van, she said. The pickup then ran off the right side of the shoulder as the van collided with the tractor-trailer. The tractor-trailer then struck a Chevrolet work truck, and it also struck a Pontiac, which was then pushed into another tractor-trailer ahead, Cox said.

The driver of the Pontiac was crushed between the two tractor-trailers. Jennifer P. Wilson, 43, of Richmond, died at the scene, state police said.

The driver of the work truck was taken to a nearby hospital and treated for what appeared to be minor injuries. No other drivers were injured, Cox said.

The driver of the tractor-trailer that struck the pickup truck, Ira D. Vestal, 39, of Conover, N.C., was charged with reckless driving, according to a news release from the Virginia State Police.

All eastbound lanes were closed at exit 205, and motorists were detoured to Route 60. By 1:30 p.m. cars were being allowed back onto the interstate at exits past 205, but there were still more than a dozen emergency vehicles and trucks at the scene. Officials reopened the interstate about 4:15 p.m.

Morning problems

Earlier in the morning, state troopers responded to at least two accidents that caused backups on the interstate in Newport News, including an incident involving one of their own.

About 7:30 a.m. on I-64 eastbound just east of Fort Eustis, a trooper was slowing down as two vehicles stopped in front of him because of heavy congestion in the area, said Virginia State Police spokeswoman Sgt. Michelle Anaya.

In the process of stopping, the trooper was struck from behind by a 2011 Dodge Journey, causing the trooper's car to hit the vehicle in front of him, Anaya said. The impact from that crash caused the vehicle in front of the trooper to hit the back of a 2003 Toyota Camry.

No injuries were reported at the scene. Virginia State Police charged the driver of the Dodge Journey with following too closely.

Not long after that accident, another multi-vehicle crash on westbound I-64 in Newport News blocked traffic for more than an hour at J. Clyde Morris Boulevard.

Three lanes were closed, and traffic was backed up for about 4 miles while crews cleared the scene.

Afternoon accident

The traffic snarls continued in the afternoon with an incident on I-64 eastbound at mile marker 253, between Fort Eustis Boulevard and Jefferson Avenue.

Traffic cameras at the scene showed a trailer hauling construction equipment sideways on the inside shoulder of the road. State police had not provided additional information on the cause of the incident Wednesday evening.

At one point, traffic was backed up 7 miles to the exit for Route 143 in Williamsburg, according to reports from the Virginia Department of Transportation. It also contributed to backups in the westbound lanes.

Neither state police nor VDOT directly attributed the weather as a factor in Wednesdays accidents.

The area received about two-tenths of an inch of steady rain since Tuesday evening, and areas to the north and west saw about three-tenths, said Dan Proch, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wakefield.

Other than causing wet roads, that amount of precipitation probably wouldn't have made much impact on driving conditions, according to Proch. He said officials had not received any reports of weather-related traffic issues as of Wednesday afternoon.

Pawlowski can be reached by phone at 757-247-7478; Mayfield can be reached at 757-298-5828; Castillo can be reached at 757-247-4635.

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