I-77 is open again after a pileup on Sunday that involved close to 100 cars and left three people dead Sunday afternoon.
The I-77 pileup took place near the Virginia-North Carolina border and involved a series of chain-reaction crashes on a foggy stretch of the highway. Virginia state police said there were 17 separate crashes in just one mile of road near the base of Fancy Gap Mountain.
“This mountain is notorious for fog banks. They have advance signs warning people. But the problem is, people are seeing well and suddenly they’re in a fog bank,” said Glen Sage of the local American Red Cross.
Officials in Virginia have since cleared the roadway of debris, and Interstate 77 reopened early on Monday.
The crashes on Sunday caused the highway to back up for eight miles and prompted authorities to close northbound lanes to allow rescue vehicles to get to the wreckage. The largest of the crashes happened at what authorities called the “epicenter” of the pileup, a wreck involving eight vehicles, some of which caught fire.
Police said the pileup was caused by drivers going too fast in the difficult conditions.
Some of the drivers caught in the I-77 pileup were leaving North Carolina and other locations to return from spring break.
“With so much fog we didn’t see much around it,” said Nina Rose, who was returning to New York along with her mother. “As we got further up we just saw a bunch of people standing on the median, just with their kids and families all together. There were cars smashed into other cars, and cars just underneath other semi-trucks.”
The stretch where the I-77 pileup took place has been notorious for its dangerous conditions. There have been at least six crashes in the mountains since 1997, including pileups in 2000 and 2010 that each claimed the lives of two people.