Skip to comments.Deadly Pileup In South-West VA (Fancy Gap Mt. Multiple Car Collisions Alert)
Posted on 03/31/2013 7:21:38 PM PDT by goldstategop
They said there were 17 separate crashes within a distance of one mile (1.6km) on Interstate 77 near the base of Fancy Gap Mountain.
The accidents began shortly after 13:00 local time (17:00 GMT) on Sunday, when there was heavy fog in the area.
It was reportedly the most deadly of several similar pile-ups since 1997.
Queues of traffic in southbound lanes near the scene of the crashes stretched for eight miles, police said.
"This mountain is notorious for fog banks," said Glen Sage of the American Red Cross office in the town of Galax.
"They have advance signs warning people. But the problem is, people are seeing well and suddenly they're in a fog bank."
(Excerpt) Read more at bbc.co.uk ...
Location of crash site is Fancy Gap Mountain
I’ve seen fog like this before in the SWVA mountains-—you literally can’t see your hand if you hold it up in front of your face.
Is this the area where the interstate enters a series of tunnels or is that further north?
Been there. Haven't done that.
But it's easy to understand why it happened.
Interstate 77 in Carroll County. 95 vehicles involved.
I’ve been through there myself, you got to be careful there.
In pre interstate days, I was traveling in the W.Va. mountains when I was passed by a speeding car on one of those unimaginably twisty roads.
Within minutes I came upon the same car that had met a semi head on. Being first on the scene I went to the car to see if I could render aid, the driver of the truck had gotten out and was sitting on the side of the road sobbing but seemingly unhurt....... too late, the torso of a woman was behind the wheel of the smashed in car and her head was lying on the back seat.
Too bad one cannot “unsee” something. That was almost 50 years ago and I still will have the occasional night mare where I see that detached head.
On a freeway, every one travels at high speed - when the lead car has to slow down due to heavy fog, other drivers behind the lead car may not see the slow down in time and they crash leading to a chain of car crashes.
Police and insurance companies generally hold a pileup created due to sudden fog an act caused by God since there is no way to determine legal fault.
We were driving across Texas and a car passed us at a high rate of speed. A few minutes later we came over a little rise and they had crashed and one of their heads was in the middle of the highway.
Thankfully there were pwople already stopped but my sister went bonkers and couldn’t drive anymore for a few days.
Further north. The tunnels are close to the Virginia state line.
The tunnels are north of Interstate 81 just below Bluefield, WV.
The accident took place just north of the NC line.
Judging by past experience, I think it is about a 9% grade for maybe 10 miles or so.
I have driven it hundreds of times, about half of the downhill times were late at night.
The downhill part starts about 10 or 15 miles north of the NC line. The road is very good. Four lane, smooth, curves are easily made at 70 MPH.
Traffic moves at 60 MPH or better regardless of the weather. I have gone down the mountain when I had to stretch my neck to keep the fog line in sight because vision ahead of the vehicle was only 20 ft. or so at best and less most of the time.
Why drive 60 MPH in weather like that? Because if you don’t some guy behind you will rear end you.
At that, I have had big trucks pass me.
In bad weather, that is one very very dangerous stretch of road.
Correction: Two lanes going down hill.
Ban cars, they are dangerous.
I’ve driven that stretch a half-dozen or more times.
There are some serious changes in elevation, slope, topography, in-and-out of tunnels, and view distractions.
Some of it will give you a case of the willies even in good weather.
Whenever you are driving on an interstate,
and you get into a situation where you feel you need to slow down for safety,
you never know what might be coming up behind you.
“...they had crashed and one of their heads was in the middle of the highway.”
Look up ahead in the road.
Look up, a head in the road.
It’s all in the the details.
My God, what a horrible sense of humour.
But to help you make your point, I had an experience many years ago that also makes your point.
An acquaintance and I were in a very heated discussion.
I said “Damn, you listen to me.”
He thought I was saying “Damn you, listen to me.”
He never got over that. Mad at me for 30 years or so. Probably still is, but we have gone different ways.
That is a beautiful, but intense, stretch of road. No fun in bad conditions.
Where is it exactly, I’m in Nevada heading in that direction, which highways to avoid in the next few hours?
I-77 south of Wytheville,VA and I-81.
Fog is one problem. Wind is another. You should try it under a wind advisory. The majority of the incline was blasted out of granite on a steep mountain on the front edge of the escarpment, going from essentially high plateau to mountain pass, rapid descent and then Piedmont below in NC. The weather changes, so fog or wind are frequent. Not unusual at all to see semis blown over onto their sides. Really pretty view to the southwest along the front of the Blue Ridge down into NC coming out of the gap, though. I like driving it in good weather. I avoid it in bad.
Studies show that most people SPEED UP when they enter fog.
This wreck took place on I-77.
I-77 runs north/south from Charlotte, NC to Bluefield, WV.
If you are travelling east, you would most likely either be on 40, which by the way is a lousy road between Asheville, NC and the TN line, or you would run 40 to Knoxville and I-81 into southern VA. I-81 is much better than I-40 if it goes where you want to go.
Either one will cross I-77 but well north or south of the big wreck.
I know well.
Heck, I used to drive it when it was 52. Talk about wrecks.
Really crooked, narrow, steep steep steep.
Trucks would burn out their brakes and off the mountain they would go. I would see one off the mountain almost every time I drove it.
On the NC-VA state line on the eastern edge of the Blue Ridge mountains running north-south. Closest towns of any size would be Mt. Airy, NC and Wytheville, VA. It’s actually in Carroll County, VA.
I know that area - beautiful! I also know that fog can set in at certain elevation ranges, and there’s a lot of up/down driving on that part of I-77.
Surprised that the news comes from Britain!
US 52 was spooky. Those runaway truck ramps rarely went unused long enough to grow weeds. Had trucks sail past me with brakes on fire before, back in the day. I-77, bad as it can sound at times, was a big improvement.
2:22 minute video - http://www.wsls.com/story/21839061/50-vehicle-backup-on-interstate-77
Article & several pics here - http://www.roanoke.com/news/1820195-12/3-dead-dozens-hospitalized-sunday-in-i-77-pileup.html
I have been on I 25 around Albuquerque In real bad winds. There is a real bad stretch about 40 miles south of Albuquerque where the highway goes through several canyons. The NM highway department even has wind socks installed there. I was traveling through there on a real windy day. A mini van passed me going very fast. I came across the van upside down on fire in the median about 10 miles down the road. You have to drive for the conditions. Traffic was going about 45 MPH and that was dicey.
Is that the stretch with the incredible view to the left as you are heading south? I’ve driven that road 40 times easy and that view is awesome...(when it’s clear and sunny).
There’s some sort of wind detection system on that stretch of interstate too, they’ll shut it down to tractor-trailer traffic occasionally and issue advisories at other times, not sure how it’s set up though.
Big issue is a wind tunnel effect up and down the “cut” into the mountainside, worst at the top by the gap and at the bottom near the NC line. 75 mph gusts will cause it to be closed to semis. Not a walk in the park in a small car or on a motorcycle either, but it’s the big trucks that get overturned, the wind tunnel effect catches them broadside in exposed curves.
That’s it, coming out of fairly high mountains by east coast standards down to low rolling countryside below. Pretty on a clear winter night too, the natural photochemical haze that makes the Blue Ridge blue is gone, you can see all the lights twinkling from the towns below for many miles, even the skyline of Winston-Salem close to fifty miles to the southeast.
“Ban cars, they are dangerous.”
Just require Dem Pols to make their speeches there...the hot air will obliterate the fog...but make sure the Bummer has his prompter...we would not want him to run out of words (hot air).
And of course you all know how to tell when any of them are lying...their lips are moving.
I was in Fancy Gap Pass when a sudden burst of wind briefly lifted my rental car completely off the road. Trucks were careening left and right in front of me as they hurtled down the pass. Glad I’m alive today...
Its nothing compared to the notorious switchback in Colorado after you leave the Independence Pass summit. When you go west to Aspen, for a few miles its a one lane switchback with no guardrails. Stick to the cliff when you go down and if you come from Aspen go left and follow the cliffs. If you are careless, you could find yourself doing a Thelma & Louise off the mountain!
Never trust that the person in front of you won't just suddenly cram on their brakes to avoid a squirrel. Their tires might violently fail, you never know. If you run into something in front of you that didn't run onto the road laterally, then that means you are following too closely.
If something nails you, that is another story.
Nothing good ever comes from Fancy Gap Mountain.
“... if it goes where you want to go.”
We live a mile from I-81. It has been there since the early ‘60s and it hasn’t moved an inch in all that time. It does gain an inch or two in altitude every 10 or so years whenever NYDOT deigns to spend a buck on fly-over country. ;>) sd
If you suddenly enter fog, a good move (besides slowing down, of course) would be to activate the panic button on your key/key fob. Noise and flashing lights increase awareness of your presence to other drivers. But, DON’T STOP unless you can get well off the roadway in a safe location. And you have to look out for the moron ahead who panic stopped in the middle as well.
I'm forever grateful to the cops on-scene. They did a fantastic job of distracting my kids - on the opposite side of the car from the accident - so that they didn't get an eyeful.
It's an odd-shaped mountain with a circular "hump" on the eastern side.
I believe it's part of Pilot Mountain State park.
Pilot Mountain is nowhere near the I-77 accident.
Pilot Mountain is off US 52, well south of the VA line.
As you descend I-77 after Mt. Airy and Galax exits, there are views of Pilot Mountain to the South (SouthEast).
A source you can trust....Fox News link to the story...
Eeeeh, my head hurts.