Emporia, VA I-95 Crash Kills Eight, Jul 1997


Emporia, Va. (AP) - Eight people died in a crash on Interstate 95 that crushed a minivan to a height of about two feet, flung children's bodies, luggage and twisted steel over about 120 yards and stranded thousands of holiday travelers for hours.
Witnesses who stopped and tried to help victims said they saw the bodies of three small children lying on the road shortly after the accident.
State police spokeswoman Mary Evans said seven of the victims died at the scene and one died at Greensville Memorial Hospital. One person injured in the crash was in serious condition at the hospital, spokesman Bill Belmonte said.
Evans said names of the victims would not be available until Friday.
It was not immediately clear what caused the accident about 2:15 p.m. in the northbound lane of the interstate nine miles north of the North Carolina border. The accident involved a tractor-trailer rig loaded with lumber, a sedan and the minivan.
Traffic was gridlocked for hours from the accident scene into North Carolina and was backed up at least five miles in southbound lanes on the East Coast's major traffic artery. Traffic routed through Emporia virtually shut the town down, making a drive across town impossible for local residents.
Northbound lanes were reopened about 6:10 p.m. and southbound lanes were opened a half-hour later.
The 18-wheeler was hauling a load of lumber from a mill in Weldon to Baltimore when the accident occurred, said Buck Ivey, safety director of Grayson Mitchell Inc., which owned the rig. Ivey said the driver was killed, but would not identify him.
The semi careened into the median and came to a stop, its bumper jutting about three feet into the southbound lane.
Mike Fahlgren was traveling from southeastern Virginia to Charleston, S.C., when he saw the semi plunge across the median toward him as the accident unfolded. He stopped his car, began checking on victims, then saw the children on the highway.
"They had no pulse," said Fahlgren, a Navy anesthesiologist.
He said he saw two adults in the Dodge minivan, both dead, and watched as two men helped pull a woman out of the Ford Contour, its front and passenger side crushed. "She was saying, 'Help my friend! Help my friend!'" Fahlgren said.

Rocky Mount Telegram North Carolina 1997-07-04

Listing of the Casualties:
In the Minivan
TONY BOWMAN, 2 years old;
SKY EDMONDS, 8 years old;
CORY JOHNSON, 12 years old;
LEON CARTER, 32, all from Richmond.
Driver of the Truck
CLYDE HUFFMAN, 62, Petersburg, Va.;
In the Car
DOREATHA STARKS, 62, driver.

Injured In the Car
DORIS NICHOLS, 62, Rocky Mount, NC.