One dead in tanker rollover on I-66

By Joe Beck

FRONT ROYAL — Westbound lanes of Interstate 66 in Warren County reopened Friday afternoon more than 12 hours after authorities closed them as a result of a fatal two-vehicle crash at mile marker 11.

A news release from Virginia State Police stated that a Toyota Corolla was heading west on I-66 at around 2:39 a.m. when the driver lost control and the car spun out on the roadway. The Toyota collided with a westbound tanker truck, which then ran off the right side of the interstate and overturned, state police said.

The driver of the truck, Warren E. Wood, 61, of Broadway, died at the scene, according to state police.

State police spokeswoman Corrine Geller said heavy rain was falling at the time of the accident.

The truck was carrying about 8,000 gallons of fuel. State police said no fuel leaked onto the road, but work crews offloaded the cargo to allow the truck to be turned upright and removed from the scene.

Traffic was backed up about four miles from the crash until the road was reopened at about 3:15 p.m., according to VDOT.

Drivers westbound on I-66 were directed off at exit 23 in Fauquier County and motorists were asked to follow U.S. 17 north to U.S. 50 west. The route took them to Interstate 81 in Frederick County, about 13 miles north of the junction with I-66.

Heavy traffic was reported in Front Royal as a result of traffic that was diverted from the interstate, VDOT officials said.

Sgt. Crystal Cline of the Front Royal police said traffic was heavy on Commerce Avenue from South Street to Royal Avenue as trucks tried to work their way back to the interstate on the north side of town.

“It was pretty bad,” Cline said, adding that flooding around the same time added to the traffic problems.

Police directed traffic at the intersections of Commerce and Royal avenues and at the Riverton Road and Duck Street intersections on North Shenandoah Avenue.

“There was significant congestion and heavy traffic running north through town due to the diversion,” Town Manager Steve Burke said, adding that VDOT increased the northbound travel time at the West Duck Street and Strasburg Road traffic signals on North Shenandoah Avenue.

The driver of the Corolla, Hea Yon Kim, 23, of Stephens City, was uninjured, according to state police. She has been charged with reckless driving.

Wood was wearing a seat belt, state police said.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.