Police shut I- 79 southbound down to traffic for more than an hour and a half Sunday after a fatal two-vehicle accident at milepost 158. Henry Allen Burnett, 67, died instantly when the Mercedes he was driving was hit by a Chevrolet Tracker driven by Donald Watson, 54. Watson had been traveling north on I-79 and had crossed the median and hit the Mercedes which was headed south. The accident happened at about 7:45 p.m. Sunday at the top of the hill just south of the I-79 rest stop, according to the Dominion Post, http://www.dominionpost.com. Those at the scene said a Chevrolet Tracker rolled, coming to rest in the right-hand lane lane. The driver of the Tracker survived and was taken to the hospital by the Star City VFD ambulance.
The Tracker was destroyed; there was not that much damage visible on the Mercedes. Witnesses near the scene of the crash say the area smelled like alcohol, and there were beer cans laying around the accident scene. But police didn’ t initially confirm whether or not either driver had been drinking, according to a news report from WDTV. Now, DUI related charges are pending for Donald Watson.
Traffic was backed up for hours while the northbound lane of I-79 was reduced to one lane at the scene of the accident, three miles north of the Star City exit. Southbound traffic was backed up for about a mile and a half. One southbound lane was reopened at 9:35 p.m.
Pennsylvania State Police and a Mount Morris, Pa., fire truck blocked the I-79 southbound lane at the Mount Morris exit, detouring traffic onto U.S. 19 south.
Monongalia County Sheriff ’s deputies are handling the investigation. Assisting at the scene were Westover Police, West Virginia State Police, Star City Volunteer Fire Department and Monongalia EMS.
This is the third fatal crash in the Morgantown area within the last week. On Wednesday, Monongalia County resident Keith Conrad, 54, was killed in a head on collision in Greene County, PA. Then on Friday, Edward Gilbert, 50 of Monongalia County, was behind the wheel of a tanker truck that hit a car on PA 21 and claimed the life of the driver.
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