Bus crash snarls traffic on I-81

By Joe Beck

Traffic on Interstate 81 south of Strasburg backed up about six miles Thursday afternoon after a bus carrying members of a U.S. Army Reserve unit overturned during heavy rain.

Sgt. F.L. (Les) Tyler of the Virginia State Police reported the bus driver, Perry A. Legg, 59, of West Virginia, and a passenger were slightly injured in the crash. Both were treated at the scene by EMTs, Tyler said.

Tyler said the crash happened in the northbound lane of I-81 around mile marker 294.5 at about 1:25 p.m.

The bus with 14 passengers onboard ran into heavy rain, Tyler said. Traffic slowed and the bus also tried to slow to avoid the traffic when it ran off the left side of the road and overturned on its passenger side, Tyler said.

Second Lt. Matthew Coryea, the commander of the reservists, said they were on their way from Marion to Fort Indian Town Gap, Pennsylvania for weapons qualification training.

Coryea said Legg was braking and trying to avoid hitting a tractor-trailer truck in the rear end at the time of the accident.

“Because of the weather conditions, we just started hydroplaning,” Coryea said. “We were going downhill. It was just the perfect storm of bad conditions.”

Coryea spoke while waiting with his unit at the Strasburg Volunteer Rescue Squad building to board another bus that was parked on Washington Street shortly before 6 p.m.

“It looks like we’re going to be able to complete our journey in the next couple of hours,” Coryea said.

Tyler said Trooper Derick A. Mauck investigated the crash and issued a summons to Legg for reckless driving.

“One lane of traffic was closed because of the crash and one remained open,” Tyler said. “There were some traffic problems.”

The Virginia Department of Transportation reported traffic backed up about six miles in the northbound lane of I-81 as of 3:55 p.m.

A VDOT news release said the left lane was expected to remain closed for at least two hours until work crews removed the wrecked bus.

VDOT also reported major delays a few miles south of the overturned bus as a result of a disabled vehicle at mile marker 287.1 on I-81. The north right shoulder was closed as of 4:18 p.m. and traffic was backed up about five miles.

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