Hundreds of motorists spent a cold night on Interstate 95 after six tractor-trailer crash in Virginia
RUTHER GLEN, Virginia – Hundreds of motorists were stranded overnight in snow and freezing temperatures along a 50-mile stretch of Interstate 95 after a crash involving six tractor-trailers in Virginia, where the authorities struggled to reach them on Tuesday.
The Virginia Department of Transportation confirmed that both directions of I-95 remain closed between Ruther Glen, Virginia, in Caroline County and Exit 152 in Dumfries, Prince William County.
“Crews will start taking people to any interchange available to get them,” VDOT tweeted at 5:20 am Tuesday.
Between 7 to 11 inches of snow accumulated in the area during Monday’s blizzard, according to the National Weather Service, and thousands of accidents and stranded vehicles were reported in central and northern Virginia. At 3:30 p.m. Monday, Virginia State Police had responded to more than 2,000 calls for service due to unsafe road conditions, The Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg reported.
To compound the issues, traffic cameras went offline as much of central Virginia lost power in the storm, the VDOT said. More than 281,000 customers went without power on Tuesday, according to poweroutage.us.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Emily Clementson, a truck driver, told NBC Washington. She urged stranded motorists to ask truck drivers if they have food or water to share, as many carry extra supplies in case they get stranded.
The agency tweeted to stranded drivers on Monday that reinforcements were arriving from other states to help them restart.
“We want to have a schedule, an estimated time of arrival, or an informed estimate of when travel will resume on I-95. It is at a standstill in our region with multiple incidents, ”we read in the tweet. “It’s frustrating and scary. Know that our crews do not stop. Crews will work 24/7 until ALL state-maintained roads are safe to travel. “
State police had warned people to avoid driving unless absolutely necessary, especially as nighttime and freezing temperatures set in.
“Due to the heavy snowfall concentrated in this area, road conditions quickly became dangerous for commercial and passenger vehicles,” state police said in a press release. “VSP soldiers, repairers and VDOT crews continue to work as quickly as time and the roads will safely allow to clear stranded vehicles and resume traffic on I-95. “
The stranded motorists included NBC News correspondent Josh Lederman, who spoke on NBC’s “Today” show on Tuesday via his car’s video feed, with a dog in the back seat. He said he had been stuck about 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Washington, DC, since 8 p.m. Monday.
“I have no food or water. I have gasoline, but how long will it last? Lederman said.
All night it turned out. Towards dawn, the VDOT announced that it was starting to try to reach stranded motorists.
“I think the word is dystopian,” Lederman said. “We started to see a lot of drivers turning off their cars to save gasoline, people running out of food and water, children and animals locked up for so many hours, people letting their animals out of the car. car to try to drive them down the street. And in the meantime, no sign of emergency vehicles that we could see. Now you don’t know if it’s because they can’t get to where you are, but you really start to think if there was a medical emergency, someone out of gas and heat – you know it’s 26 degrees and no one can reach you in that situation.