2 Related Truck Crashes on I-81 in Virginia Lead to Death and Injury

Two separate tractor trailer crashes last week within a mile of each other on I-81 in Virginia led to serious injuries and the deaths of a man and boy.

Sideswipe truck accident kills 1.

The Virginia State Police stated that the first truck crash resulting in serious injury occurred at 5:30 AM on May 6 at the 306-mile marker of I-81. A truck stopped on the right shoulder of I-81 south, and a minivan ran off the right side of the road and hit the trailer.

The minivan driver was Jennifer Cole, 39, from Woodstock, Virginia. She was taken to a local hospital with serious injuries that were not life-threatening.

The tractor trailer driver was Milen Pepelyankov, 34, from Chicago. He was not hurt, but he was charged with improper stopping on a highway. Additional charges are pending.

As the Virginia State Police were investigating the first truck crash with serious injuries, another truck crash happened at the 307-mile marker. That truck crash happened at 6 am on May 6. Another tractor trailer came upon slow traffic due to the first crash at the 306-mile marker. The truck could not brake in time and slammed into the rear of a 2013 Mercedez Benz. The impact of that truck crash led to a chain reaction crash with three other cars. In that crash, there was a total of five vehicles involved.

The truck driver in the second crash was Carl Paris, 55, from Georgia, and he was not hurt. However, a female in his sleeper cabin was hurt and treated for serious injuries that were not life-threatening.

The driver of the Mercedes, Mikhail Shmaydiy, 46, from Iowa, and his 12-year-old son, died in the tractor trailer crash.

Paris was charged with reckless driving, and the crash is still being investigated.

Our View

Our Virginia and North Carolina personal injury attorneys send our condolences to the family of the deceased in the second truck crash.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or FMCSA states that one of the common causes of tractor trailer crashes is inadequate surveillance. This is when the truck driver should look safely to complete a maneuver but either does not see or does not look. Many crashes involving inadequate surveillance involve changing lanes, merging or turns at intersections. However, some very serious truck crashes also occur with inadequate surveillance when the truck driver is not watching far enough ahead of his rig. Inadequate surveillance can be due to many factors, including a truck driver being fatigued. 

The FMCSA reminds truck drivers to look far enough ahead, at least 15 seconds in front of you, which is about 1/4 of a mile ahead on the highway. Note that it takes 3/4 of a second from the moment your brain sends the signal until your foot applies the brake. At highway speed, the truck may have gone 60 feet or more.

In the second crash above, the tractor trailer driver could not see the slowed traffic in front of him due to a hill. He should have slowed down because he could not see far enough ahead to drive safely. Now, two innocent people are dead.

Tractor trailer crashes involving serious injury or death are cases we see often as Virginia personal injury attorneys. More careful truck drivers could prevent many of these crashes that lead to large personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. We hope these crashes will remind truckers to maintain awareness at all time when they are driving.