Two Killed on I-470 in West Virginia
Interstate Closed for Hours In Wake Of Fatal Crash Involving Semis, SUV
WHEELING — Bethlehem residents David Rapp and Jeff Weese had a hilltop vantage point to observe the immediate aftermath of a fatal accident that occurred Saturday afternoon on Interstate 470.
At the time, however, they did not know if anyone was hurt let alone died in the crash.
“I heard it,” Rapp said. “There was a big boom, which we really weren’t sure what that was. We looked out. I didn’t think it was a big deal.”
According to the timestamps on his photographs of the aftermath, the collisions likely occurred prior to 3:15 p.m.
“You look out and you can see what looks like just a truck jack-knifed and hit the center barrier. Traffic was backed up there so it could have been moving very quickly. It looked like it was just radiator exhaust. There was couple of Good Samaritans going around the vehicle. I didn’t think much of it.”
Rapp said by 3:23 p.m. the front of one truck was fully engulfed in flames.
“There were several explosions,” he said. “I think it took them about an hour to get (the fire) under control.”
Rapp also indicated there was a second wrecked semi truck, where the side appeared to have been shorn open.
“It’s opened like a can-opener. On the side,” Rapp said.
Weese said a pickup truck drove past his residence shortly after the wreck and the driver claimed to have witnessed the accident.
“Somebody came up here. He was heading to California. He said he just went through as it happened,” Weese said. “He said as hard as that truck hit the wall, he don’t think the driver made it out. I don’t know. I hope he did. When I got up here from the house, it was still on fire. … I seen black smoke. I sat here and watched it on fire and said, ‘Man, I hope to heck he got out.'”
Philip Stahl, spokesman for the Wheeling Police and Fire departments, said two people died in the accident that occurred about 3:30 p.m. Saturday on Interstate 470 near Elm Grove.
Stahl said the people who died in the accident would need to be positively identified and their families notified before their names could be released. He said Wheeling police were reconstructing the accident scene to determine what happened.
Stahl said no one else was injured; however, one Wheeling police officer was taken to the hospital after becoming overwhelmed at the scene.
Two tractor trailers and one SUV were involved in the crash. One tractor trailer was hauling paper, and the other was carrying ranch dressing, Stahl said. During the investigation, I-470 was shutdown for several hours.
Wheeling fire and police were assisted by Mozart Volunteer Fire Department, the Ohio County Sheriff’s Department, Bethlehem Police Department, West Virginia State Police and the Wheeling-Ohio County Emergency Management Agency.