The accident occurred Wednesday afternoon just before 3:30 p.m. when the fuel tanker struck two vehicles conduction a road inspection.
Virginia State police spokeswoman Corinne Geller told the News Advance that a Chevrolet pickup truck was on the right shoulder of 1-81 conducting a road inspection. A crash cushion truck was traveling alongside the pickup in the right lane of the highway.
The fuel truck, which was carrying 8,500 gallons of gasoline was traveling in the left lanes of the interstate when he crossed over the center line. The driver swerved and overcorrected causing the truck’s load to shift.
“The tanker’s load shifted and overturned onto its side across both southbound lanes,” the Virginia State Police press release said. “The tanker truck slid into the pickup truck, exploded and then collided with the crash cushion truck.”
Fuel from the tanker truck spilled on the pickup truck and crash cushion truck. All three of the vehicles erupted in flames and smoked billowed across all lanes of traffic.
The driver of the tanker truck, Frank A. Skeens Jr., 48, and the pickup driver, Trevor Blankenship, 30, died on the scene. The driver of the crash cushion truck, Kenterrious L. Christian, 27, died on his way to the hospital.
At one point following the accident, authorities had to close all lanes of I-81 because of the flames and heavy smoke. Traffic was still being detoured six hours after the accident and VDOT said they would have to evaluate the roadway Thursday to determine the if the fire caused excessive damage.
Police are still trying to determine why the tanker truck driver lost control. The Virginia State Police Wytheville Division Accident Reconstruction Team is assisting with the crash investigation, the police news release said.
This is one among the numerous fiery collisions involving a commercial accident this week. There was a major one involving a tractor-trailer and a church bus in Tennessee which left 8 people dead, including the tractor trailer driver.
Truck accidents tend to be more deadly than accidents involving passenger vehicles. If the victims happen to survive, they
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