DOBSON — An incident which brought traffic to a halt on I-77 was the result of multiple traffic accidents, and an alleged chemical spill posed no threat to the community.
Surry County EMS Director John Shelton said Wednesday afternoon a pick-up truck hydroplaned and hit a guardrail in the northbound lanes at mile marker 96, just north of exit 93.
Shelton said the driver, for which he did not have a name available, was transported by ambulance to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in critical but stable condition.
“While we were working that, a tractor-trailer tried to stop and was hit by another tractor-trailer,” explained Shelton.
The accident caused a ripple effect which ultimately involved four tractor-trailers, according to Shelton. One tractor-trailer even become lodged underneath another. Shelton said the driver of that truck was also transported to Wake, but in stable condition.
Shelton said an alleged chemical spill was only sodium nitrate, a fertilizer, in solid form. Though HAZMAT crews were called to the scene, the spill was of little concern.
“It was all contained, and there was not an issue,” remarked Shelton.
Wednesday’s traffic accidents caused emergency personnel to close I-77, diverting traffic off the highway at exit 93. Personnel worked well into the night before clearing the scene and reopening the northbound lanes.
Road conditions were a major issue, said Shelton, who described conditions on the county’s highways as possibly “the worst I’ve ever seen.”
Shelton said the result of multiple instances of hydroplaning was about 15 traffic accidents throughout the afternoon and evening hours. The conditions even warranted a change in the procedures of emergency responders.
“We cut all our trucks back to routine,” said Shelton, explaining conditions warranted EMS personnel driving slower than normal in responding to all calls.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.