The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Crashes on I-95 stall traffic on other roads
BY SCOTT SHENK
A trifecta of Interstate 95 crashes made for some tough going the past three days for Fredericksburg-area drivers.
Thursday morning topped off the three-day stretch with a five-vehicle crash on I–95 north near the Stafford Regional Airport exit during the commute, which backed up the interstate for miles while bailout traffic clogged numerous thoroughfares around the area.
“Rt. 1N in the city is jammed, along with Rt. 3E as far as Central Park at least,” Stephanie Hein posted on Fredericksburg.com’s Facebook page Thursday morning.
Major crashes like these—all involving tractor–trailers and other vehicles over the past three days—always have ripple effects on the area’s busy roads.
“It has a big impact,” not only on the interstate, but on primary and secondary roads too, said Kelly Hannon, spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Transportation.
Crashes have been rampant on the region’s rain-slick roadways this week. The Virginia State Police sent out a release Thursday noting that they’ve been dealing with a lot of accidents and warned drivers to be more careful during inclement weather.
It’s not clear if any of this week’s local interstate crashes were weather related. But two of the incidents resulted in charges against drivers.
The third, Thursday’s crash, could result in charges if the driver who allegedly left the scene is ever identified.
State Police Sgt. Les Tyler said the unidentified driver cut off another car, which spun out causing a “chain-reaction crash” near mile marker 137 in Stafford Thursday morning.
There were four cars and a tractor–trailer involved in the crash. Tyler said no major injuries were reported.
The tractor–trailer leaked fuel, which had to be cleaned before the interstate could be reopened.
The crash happened shortly after 7 a.m. and the traffic jam spread as all three northbound lanes and the shoulders were closed. Traffic was diverted to the Centreport Parkway exit, which sent traffic to U.S. 1.
The interstate was reopened shortly after 9 a.m.
Wednesday afternoon’s I–95 crash near Fredericksburg involved three southbound vehicles and happened near the congested State Route 3 exit. It happened at 3:30 p.m., just as the evening rush was kicking in.
The scene was cleared by 4:45 p.m., but the crash caused jams throughout the Fredericksburg area.
“I just came through there it is a messss,” Kasey Liming wrote on Fredericksburg.com’s Facebook page, where area drivers argued over who is the primary culprit for I–95 crashes, truckers or car drivers.
In Wednesday’s crash, police said a trucker caused it.
Tyler said that a southbound tractor–trailer in the right lane approached slower-moving traffic and switched to the middle lane. The truck hit another big rig that was traveling in the middle lane, and it in turn hit a Jeep Liberty that was in the left lane.
One passenger in the Jeep was injured, otherwise no serious injuries were reported.
Tyler said that John Janifer, the driver of the tractor–trailer that caused the incident, was charged with making an improper lane change.
Tyler said the first of the three crashes was caused by a driver of a car.
That incident happened at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, also near the Fredericksburg Exit 130, but in the northbound lanes.
Tyler said that a Mercury, driven by 22-year-old Fredericksburg resident Latisha Furmen, was headed north on the ramp onto I–95 and spun out in the right lane. A tractor–trailer then hit the out-of-control car, sending both veering off the interstate.
Furmen was trapped in her car and had to be cut free by emergency crews. She and the truck driver, a New York man, were taken to Mary Washington Hospital for treatment.
A fuel spill also had to be cleaned up at this crash scene.
Police charged Furmen with reckless driving.
That crash might not have caused as many headaches as the rush-hour incidents, but it still clogged I–95 and other area roads until after 7 p.m.
Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436