Tractor trailer collision shut down I-81 traffic near Quicksburg

Severe backups plagued Interstate 81 between New Market and Mount Jackson on Tuesday afternoon when a tractor trailer collision temporarily shut down southbound traffic near mile marker 268.

Ken Slack, Virginia Department of Transportation communications specialist, said the two southbound entrance ramps onto I-81  were shut down as a result of the crash, and traffic was detoured onto U.S. 11.

VDOT operations officials were able to adjust the U.S. 11 traffic signals to keep north-south traffic flowing, Slack said, but the detour did put a “heavy burden” on the smaller highway.

All I-81 southbound lanes did not fully reopen until 6 p.m. Tuesday, though Slack said VDOT officials on the scene were able to get traffic by on the shoulder and by partial lane openings.

“The timing was unfortunate, because I think the accident happened shortly before school let out,” Slack said, noting that the crash occurred near Stonewall Jackson High School. He said he was unaware of how the crash impacted school bus schedules.

The crash occurred around 2:10 p.m. Tuesday, said Sgt. F. “Les” Tyler of the Virginia State Police.

Tyler said a 2016 Freightliner tractor trailer operated by Tommy Lecalver, 60,  of Jacksonville, North Carolina, ran off the roadway to the right, and Lecalver overcorrected, piloting his vehicle into northbound traffic in the left lane.

Lecalver’s truck collided with a 2018 Peterbilt tractor trailer driven by  Steven Durham, 53, of Kernersville, North Carolina, Tyler said. Lecalver’s vehicle overturned in the left lane and Durham’s truck ran off the road to the left, struck a guardrail, and overturned in the embankment in the median.

Both men were transported to the hospital, Tyler said.

State police officer D.O. Evans investigated the incident and, as a result, Lecalver has been charged with reckless driving.