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Police identify victims in fatal I-81 multi-vehicle crash

Photo taken of crash scene on Interstate 81 near MM 240 on Jan. 15
Photo taken of crash scene on Interstate 81 near MM 240 on Jan. 15(WHSV)
Published: Jan. 15, 2020 at 2:15 PM EST
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UPDATE (9:00 a.m.):

Virginia State Police have identified the three people who were killed in a multi-vehicle crash along Interstate 81 on Wednesday afternoon.

The crash shut down all southbound lanes of I-81 near Mount Crawford for the entire afternoon, resulting in backups and extreme congestion on Route 11.

According to police, a 2016 Volvo tractor trailer driven by 52-year-old William A. Milam, of Jamestown, Tennessee, was heading north on Interstate 81 when it ran off the left side of the roadway, through the interstate median, into southbound lanes, and and crashed head-on into a southbound 2013 Honda Civic and a 2012 Ford E-450.

Police say the impact of the crash caused a southbound 2003 Honda Element to then crash into the Ford and the Volvo's trailer hit a southbound 2016 Freightliner tractor trailer as well.

Milam died at the scene as a result of his injuries.

The driver of the Honda Civic, 33-year-old Dylan P. Snell, of Clemmons, North Carolina, and the driver of the Ford E-450, 41-year-old Robert W. Fitzgerald, of Crimora, Virginia, died at the scene as well.

All of them were wearing their seat belts.

The driver, of the Honda Element, a 21-year-old man from Stephens City, was taken to Sentara RMH with minor injuries. Another 21-year-old man who was a passenger in the Element suffered minor injuries as well.

Police say a 32-year-old man who was a passenger in the Ford driven by Fitzgerald was taken to Sentara RMH with serious injuries.

The driver of the Freightliner, a 40-year-old man from Florence, New Jersey, suffered minor injuries as well.

Everyone involved was wearing a seat belt.

The crash remains under investigation.

Virginia State Police responded, with assistance from VSP’s Division 2 Accident Reconstruction Team, VSP’s Motor Carrier Team, Harrisonburg Fire and Rescue, Rockingham Fire and Rescue, Virginia Department of Transportation, and DBI.

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ORIGINAL:

Virginia State Police confirmed three people were killed in a crash on Interstate 81 South in Rockingham County on Wednesday.

According to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the crash involved two tractor trailers, a cargo van and two passenger vehicles. The crash blocked traffic at mile marker 239.7, just south of Exit 240 for Bridgewater and Mount Crawford. It was first reported around 2:00 p.m on Wednesday. All lanes of the interstate reopened to traffic around 9:00 p.m.

In a press release, Virginia State Police said the driver of a 2016 Volvo tractor trailer was traveling north on I-81, when the truck ran off of the left side of the roadway, through the median, collided head on with a southbound 2013 Honda Civic and a 2012 Ford cargo van. The impact caused a southbound 2003 Honda Element to collide with the Ford. The Volvo's trailer collided with a southbound 2016 Freightliner tractor trailer.

The drivers of the Volvo, Honda Civic and the Ford were killed as a result of the crash.

The passenger of the Ford, a 32-year-old man, suffered serious injuries.

The 21-year-old man driving the Honda Element was from Stephens City. He and his passenger suffered minor injuries.

The 40-year-old man driving the Freightliner suffered minor injuries. State Police said he was from Florence, NJ.

As of Wednesday night, State Police did not identify the drivers killed in the crash pending family notification.

The southbound lanes of the interstate were closed for several hours on Wednesday. Backups from the scene at one point reached seven miles.

VDOT said drivers should expect delays as congestion clears the area.

Those injured in the crash were taken to Sentara RHM. The hospital opened a family assistance center, inviting visitors and family members of crash victims to report to the hospital's main lobby for assistance.

The crash remains under investigation.

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