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West Virginia authorities piecing together fatal crash facts

There's no such thing as an armchair crash investigator. Incomplete details about a motor vehicle accident may lead Charleston residents to assume a driver made a serious mistake. However, the true cause of a crash can remain unclear until a collision scene is combed for evidence and a full investigation is conducted.

An out-of-state woman recently died in an auto accident on Interstate 81 near Martinsburg. The fatal collision occurred during a heavy rainstorm. A vehicle on the southbound side of the highway left the road, crossed the median and hit a second vehicle in the northbound lanes.

Reports did not identify the woman who died, pending notification of kin, although police revealed the victim's husband was one of two injured crash survivors. The husband was transported to a hospital, where he remains under treatment. A third person apparently suffered non-serious injuries.

Investigators did not state which vehicles the victims occupied. When emergency personnel arrived on the scene, the wreckage was off to the side of the highway. Extrication was employed to free the victims and reach the woman's body.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, more than 1.3 million traffic accidents or 23 percent of all nationwide crashes each year are related to weather events. The figures are included in an analysis of accidents between 2002 and 2012. Nearly three-fourths of weather-linked collisions occurred on wet pavements with 46 percent during rain events -- more than snow and ice-related accidents combined.

An average of nearly 600,000 traffic accidents each year is attributed to rainy conditions. Rain was involved in 11 percent of crashes, 10 percent of injuries and 8 percent of all fatalities in weather-related accidents.

Weather conditions can play a role in a West Virginia accident but may not be the sole reason for a crash. Injured parties have a right to file for compensation when accidents in any weather are due to negligence.

Source: Herald-Mail, "Woman killed in Interstate 81 crash was a Pennsylvania resident" Dave McMillion, Jul. 13, 2014

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