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Police investigate cause of fatal crash on Interstate 64

Mar. 10, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Investigators still have many questions about what led an Ohio man to drive his pickup truck the wrong way on Interstate 64.

The incident led to a head-on collision that killed the driver and his passenger, as well as seriously injuring a family of five traveling through the Tri-State from North Carolina in a GMC Yukon.

Dispatchers received word of the crash about 3 a.m. Friday. It happened just east of the West Huntington exit, which brings together traffic from I-64 and U.S. 52.

The impact mangled both vehicles and led to a lengthy investigation, which closed the Interstate for more than seven hours. That led to problematic detours through the city.

Huntington Police Patrolman Scott Hudson simply described the accident as severe.

"It's hard to imagine something like that happening," he said.

Investigators were still attempting to identify any contributing factors Friday, as well as pinpoint the precise location at which the pickup started driving in the wrong direction. Hudson said they believe it traveled, unscathed, for at least some distance on U.S. 52, but they do not know where it entered that highway.

The impact was so severe that emergency crews were unable to remove the deceased bodies at the scene. Hudson said that required a heavy amount of dismantling, which crews did not feel was appropriate in the public view of I-64's eastbound lanes.

Hudson attributed the severity of the impact to the nature of its location. He said the North Carolinian family likely never saw the oncoming vehicle until it was too late.

"That's probably the worst of all impacts," Hudson said in referencing any head-on collision on an interstate. "Being the nature of the interstate, you wouldn't expect somebody to be coming at you from up an off ramp and entering traffic."

Names of those involved were not released Friday afternoon pending the notification of family. Hudson said such notification was difficult as both parties are from out of the immediate area.

Hudson later issued a press release indicating the North Carolina family was traveling through the Tri-State en route to Chicago.

Westbound traffic was forced off I-64 at either the Hal Greer Boulevard exit (No. 11) or the 5th Street exit (No. 8). That created a traffic jam on I-64 and congested some city streets.

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