If you were to step outside here in Charleston, you would be greeted by relatively warm temperatures and otherwise comfortable conditions. As it turns out, however, not all of West Virginia has seen such pleasant weather recently, as some parts of the state were even hit with a late season snowfall earlier in the week.
Unfortunately, this snowfall was far from just inconvenient, but rather contributed to what law enforcement officials now believe was one of the biggest chain-reaction accidents in state history.
According to reports from the West Virginia State Police, at around 8:45 a.m. this past Wednesday, Interstate 81 in Berkeley County was hit with a narrow snow squall that created a complete whiteout, meaning motorists traveling down the highway at a high rate of speed suddenly had zero visibility.
This complete whiteout resulted in a massive pileup involving 30 cars on the northbound side of I-81 near mile marker 21, and a massive pileup involving 10 cars on the nearby southbound side.
Tragically, the large-scale wreck took the lives of two motorists and injured 12 others, two of whom are currently listed in critical condition.
To illustrate just how narrow, just how fast and just how deadly this snow squall was, consider that state police officials indicated that there was no snow for one mile on either side of the pileups. Furthermore, within a mere seven minutes of the accident here in West Virginia, the squall caused another 15-vehcile pileup in neighboring Maryland.
It should be interesting to see what the state police accident reconstructionist identifies as being the cause of the exact cause of the wreck. Was someone speeding when the whiteout struck? Was someone following too closely? Answers to questions like these will give victims and their families much-needed answers and perhaps let them know whether they need to consider their legal options.
Source: West Virginia MetroNews, “State police reconstructing ‘white out’ wreck,” Jeff Jenkins, March 27, 2014; The Journal, ” State Police: 44 vehicles involved in multiple I-81 wrecks; Two confirmed dead,” March 26, 2014