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Last bus crash victim released from hospital

The last of 15 people being treated at the University of Virginia Medical Center for injuries received in a Nov. 17 crash between a tractor-trailer hauling mail and a tour bus has been released, hospital officials said Monday.

The early-morning crash on eastbound Interstate 64 resulted in about 30 people being injured and treated at UVa, Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital and Augusta Health Medical Center.

Most of the injured were released within 24 hours, hospital officials said, but four remained at the UVa hospital for more than a week.

Hospital officials said the last person, who had been listed in serious condition for more than a week, was released Monday morning.

The crash occurred about a mile down the hill from the crest of Afton Mountain when foggy conditions combined with freezing temperatures to create a glaze of ice on the interstate, Virginia State Police said.

Police said the tractor-trailer carrying mail for the U.S. Postal Service was traveling east when the driver lost control and the semi-truck overturned, its trailer falling across the roadway. A bus from Troy-based Silver Lining Tours and Charter was unable to avoid the tractor-trailer on the icy road and struck the trailer.

The impact spit the trailer in half, scattering mail. The bus ran off the right side of the highway onto the shoulder and stopped against the guardrail, police said.

No charges were placed in the crash, which authorities blamed on the weather conditions.

Fog and ice on the roadway near Afton Mountain have long been an issue for drivers on the interstate. It led Virginia Department of Transportation officials to install guide lights along the roadway more than 40 years ago to make it easier to navigating the roads in foggy conditions.

The lighting system was installed in 1976 and upgraded with brighter lights and new sensors in 1997.

Within a three-week period in 1998, two major fog-related crashes occurred on the interstate. The first involved 65 vehicles with 40 injuries, but no fatalities. The initial crash began at 12:42 p.m. and related crashes continued for almost 20 minutes.

At the time of the crash, VDOT and state police officials estimated visibility was reduced to 5 to 10 feet.

The second, less serious, crash occurred 17 days later and involved 21 vehicles and no fatalities.

A 2002 study of the road resulted in a new message board system and the installation of highway cameras.

VDOT officials said the light system and signs were functioning properly on Nov. 17 to warn motorists of fog over the road.


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