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Winter weather contributes to traffic death, house fire

Tyler Casady, 21, of Churchville, is dressed for cold weather as he directs traffic in this construction zone on Caverns Road in Mt. Jackson. Casady is employed by Stillwater Excavating Inc. in Churchville. Rich Cooley/Daily

By Joe Beck

Slippery road conditions contributed to a fatal single vehicle crash early Thursday morning in Frederick County near Star Tannery.

State police spokesman Sgt. F.L. (Les) Tyler said the accident took the life of Justin Robert Latta, 29, of Winchester, at about 12:01 a.m.

Tyler said Latta's 1999 GMC pickup was traveling northbound on North Pifer Road, three miles south of Va. 608. Latta's truck entered a lef-hand curve, ran off the road and hit a tree, Tyler said.

Tyler said Latta died at the scene as a result of his injuries. He was not wearing a seat belt, according to Tyler.

Tyler said speed too fast for the weather conditions was a factor in the accident. The accident was investigated by Trooper A.W. Backus, he said.

Winter weather also played a role in a fire that destroyed a home at 1053 Shangri-La Road in the Bentonville area of Warren County early Thursday morning.

Chief Richard E. Mabie said Warren County firefighters were called out at 12:24 a.m. and arrived at the scene 25 minutes later to find flames leaping from several windows and a door to the home.

The occupants of the home, Cindy Haden and her two teenage children, escaped uninjured, but their home was a total loss, Mabie said. Mabie estimated the loss of the home owned by Sam Snead at $124,000.

Fire Marshal Gerry Maiatico said the fire appeared to have been caused by a failure of woodstove piping in the home.

"There were two kinds of heat in the house, one was baseboard, and the other was woodstove, Mabie said. "With it being as cold as it is, they supplemented the heat with the woodstove."

Mabie said the driveway leading to the house was on a snow-covered hill that prevented the first firefighters on the scene from getting close with their trucks. As a result, firefighters had to pull their hose a longer distance to douse the fire with water, he said.

Snow also forced firefighters to slow down on their way to the scene and made for treacherous footing on the deck of the house while the fire was being brought under control, Mabie said.

"Having to contend with the slick roads, it did slow it down some," he said of the response time.

Mabie said the displaced family is receiving help from the Top of Virginia Chapter of the American Red Cross. Mabie said the sound of the fire alerted them to trouble before they escaped through a door in the house. A single smoke detector in the house failed to operate, he said.

Tyler said snow-covered roads also led to other accidents in addition to the fatality on Pifer Road.

"We've had some minor fender benders, nothing serious," he said.

The National Weather Service Thursday evening forecast increasing clouds at night and more snow on Friday after 1 p.m., with accumulations of around an inch possible. A chance of additional snowfall of up to a half inch is possible until 9 p.m. according to the forecasters. A high of 25 is expected on Friday with a nighttime low of 20.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com


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