State police: Tractor-trailer going too slow spurred fatal wreck on I-81

By Heather Butterworth - Digital Content Producer, Jeff Williamson - Digital Content Manager

ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY, Va. - UPDATE

We are now learning more details about a fatal tractor-trailer crash that caused major backups on I-81 in Rockbridge County on Thursday.

State police say a 2017 Freightliner tractor-trailer was headed south on I-81 at a low rate of speed when it was rear-ended by a 2019 Peterbilt tractor-trailer that was going the speed limit.  Both tractor-trailers then ran off the left side of the highway, hitting the guardrail.

The Peterbilt was driven by Caleb Andrew Littlepage, 22, of Perry, Florida. He was wearing his seatbelt and was taken to the hospital. It's not clear how badly he was hurt.

The passenger in the Peterbilt was identified as Cherone Bernard Thacker, 30, of Sanford, Florida.  He was unrestrained in the sleeper of the truck and died at the scene.

The Freightliner was driven by Del Cid Jose Amilcar Carcamo, 34, of Buena Park, California. He was wearing his seatbelt and was not injured.

State police have not announced any charges. 

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One person has died after two tractor-trailers collided on I-81 South in Rockbridge County.

It happened near mile marker 196 around 6:30 a.m. Thursday. That's between the Fairfield and Lexington exits. 

State police have not yet released the person's name. 

Southbound I-81 in Rockbridge County didn't reopen until shortly before 5 p.m., according to VDOT.

At one point, it was up to seven miles. 

On U.S. Route 11, backups reached approximately 15 miles, according to VDOT.

Due to heavy traffic volumes, the Virginia Department of Transportation advises motorists to consider the following alternate routes:

  • Southbound I-81 exit 213A (Greenville) in Augusta County. Follow Route 11 south and rejoin I-81 at exit 195.
  • Southbound I-81 exit 217 (Mint Spring/Stuarts Draft) in Augusta County. Follow Route 654 (White Hill Road) west and then Route 11 south to rejoin I-81 at exit 195.
  • Westbound I-64 exit 118A (Lynchburg) to Route 29 south at Lynchburg, then Route 460 west to Roanoke and rejoin I-81 at exit 143.

The left lane of I-81 North will be temporarily closed at mile marker 196. Emergency crews will use the crossover to get "stuck" southbound drivers U-turned. 

Northbound I-81 exits 200 and 205 (Raphine/Steeles Tavern) are closed to prevent exiting traffic from backing up onto the ramps. Northbound I-81 drivers who need to access Route 11 in the Rockbridge/Augusta area should use exit 195 or exit 213.

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