July 25, 2016

Mostly clear

Medina softball bus in 95-car pileup in Virginia

A charter bus carrying the Medina High School softball team was involved in a 95-vehicle pileup Sunday along a fog-shrouded pass on Interstate 77 in Virginia.

None of the students were seriously injured.

Virginia State Police said the pileup involved 17 separate chain-reaction crashes. Three people were killed as a result of the crashes, and 25 people were taken to local hospitals.

A photo released by the Virginia State Police shows the scene of a pileup involving 95 vehicles in the southbound lanes of Interstate 77 in in Carroll County, Va. A bus carrying the Medina High School softball team was part of the pileup, and no one on the team was seriously injured. (PHOTO PROVIDED)

Softball coach Jessica Toocheck said one student “had a minor head injury,” but none of the students were taken to the hospital.

The softball team was en route to a tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

The 911 calls began at about 1:15 p.m., police said. The crashes occurred within a 1-mile stretch in the southbound lane of Interstate 77 in Carroll County, 6 miles north of the Virginia-North Carolina border.

“There was a pileup up ahead of us, and we caught the back end of it,” Toocheck said.

She said the team’s bus hit a vehicle in front of it, and was rear-ended several times during the crash. A photo released by a local television station shows damage to the back of the bus.

The driver “did a good job” and avoided as many cars as he could, she said.

Toocheck said there were 12 players and two coaches on board.

The crash was a traumatic experience for the girls, she said.

“They handled it very well,” Toocheck said. “I was very proud of them.”

Toocheck said the team was hoping to make the tournament. The students were waiting Sunday night at a Super 8 motel for another bus coming from Akron.
The first game of the tournament begins at 2 p.m. today.

According to police, the “epicenter” of the pileup was a crash involving six-to-eight vehicles — several of which caught fire.

Police blamed the tragedy on people traveling too fast for the foggy conditions at the base of the Fancy Gap mountain area.

Both north and southbound lanes were closed for several hours as a result of the crashes. Police reopened the northbound lane at 7 p.m., and were clearing the southbound lane until 9 p.m. Sunday night.

An almost identical crash occurred in the same area less than three years ago.

Two people died on Nov. 16, 2010, when about 75 vehicles were involved in three crashes in heavy fog along both north- and southbound lanes, according to the local newspaper, the Carroll News.

Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com.