Police: Sleeping trucker caused crash

Brad Davis/The Register-HeraldA combined team of paramedics and firefighters from Beaver Volunteer, Mabscott and Beckley departments work together as they execute a difficult extraction and rescue of an injured truck driver following an accident in which his rig tumbled off an embankment along the eastbound lanes of I- 64 around mile marker 121 Wednesday afternoon.

The driver of the tractor-trailer involved in Wednesday’s accident on I-64 eastbound fell asleep, resulting in his going down a steep embankment, according to the West Virginia State Police. 

Gregory Paul Walker, 31, of Massanutten, Va., was within the Department of Transportations rules on allowable driving hours when he fell asleep, said Cpl. Timothy D. Holster of the West Virginia State Police.

Walker fell asleep, but woke when he heard the tractor-trailer run over the rumble strips before going down the steep embankment at mile marker 121, just east of Beckley.

“He was attempting to make it to the Sandstone Rest Area,” said Holster.

Walker was traveling eastbound in the right lane of the interstate about 4 p.m. when the trailer started fishtailing, according to State Police. 

The fishtailing continued as the driver struck the guardrail, flipped over the side and plummeted about 50 yards down the embankment near the Eisenhower Drive exit, State Police said.

The accident left at least 25 yards of guardrail nothing but twisted metal. 

Walker was transported to Raleigh General Hospital after rescue crews worked for about an hour to extract him from the truck, which was registered to Houff Transit Inc. 

Holster said Thursday Walker did suffer minor injuries.

Beckley, Beaver and Mabscott fire departments, West Virginia State Police and Turnpike Authority responded. Since the accident involved a tractor-trailer, the Public Service Commission Transportation Enforcement Division was also on scene. Evergreen Environmental Management was also called to the accident.

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