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Police identify victims in deadly Interstate 81 crash

Two women from Florence, Alabama, died

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – State police say two Alabama women died in Wednesday's crash on Interstate 81.

The two-SUV crash in Roanoke County happened at 11:15 a.m. in the southbound lanes at mile marker 139.9, just south of Exit 140.

Police say a 2015 Acura RDX was driving quickly in the left southbound lane when the driver lost control and it ran off the left side of the road and struck the guardrail. The car then struck a 1999 Ford Explorer, also traveling south.  

Both vehicles then ran off the right side of the road and hit the guardrail, ejecting one of the rear-seat passengers from the Explorer, according to police.

The vehicles then came back into the southbound lanes, at which time the Explorer overturned, ejecting another rear-seat passenger.  

The Acura again veered off the right side of the road, hitting an embankment and overturning multiple times before coming to rest in the tree line.

The Acura's driver, Ralph Bryant, 65, and passenger, Joan Bryant, 65, both of Brookhaven, Mississippi, were wearing their seat belts and transported to Roanoke Memorial Hospital for injuries received in the crash.

The Ford's driver, Enid Beckwith, 59, of Memphis, Tennessee, and front-seat passenger, Annie Beckwith, 63, of Florence, Alabama, were both wearing their seat belts. They were transported to Roanoke Memorial Hospital to be treated for injuries they suffered in the crash.  

The rear-seat passengers, Emma Beckwith, 61, and Wanda Alexander, 58, both of Florence, were not wearing their seat belts, were ejected and died at the scene, according to state police.

State police closed Interstate 81 southbound from 11:25 a.m. until 4:39 p.m.  

All southbound traffic was diverted off the Interstate to Route 11 while the Virginia State Police Accident Reconstruction Team and the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation (Salem Division) reconstructed the crash scene.

Charges are pending.

The crash remains under investigation.


About the Author:

Jeff Williamson arrived at WSLS 10 in March 2016.