About 5:40 p.m. on July 26,1990, a truck operated by Double B Auto Sales, Inc., transporting eight automobiles entered a highway work zone near Sutton, West Virginia, on northbound Interstate Highway 79 and struck the rear of a utility trailer being towed by a Dodge Aspen. The Aspen then struck the rear of a Plymouth Colt, and the Double B truck and the two automobiles traveled into the closed right lane and collided with three West Virginia Department of Transportation (WVDOT) maintenance vehicles. Fire ensued, and the eight occupants in the Aspen and the Colt died. The Aspen, Colt, Double B truck, and two of the three WVDOT vehicles were either destroyed or severely damaged. The Double B truckdriver and one firefighter sustained minor injuries.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the inattention of the driver of the Double B Auto Sales. Inc., truck due to fatigue, exacerbated by an inadequate and unbalanced diet the day of the accident, and the inadequacy of the oversight exercised by Double B Auto Sales, Inc., to ensure that its drivers were qualified and received adequate rest. Contributing to the cause of the accident was the less than optimal work zone control devices and procedures used by the West Virginia Department of Transportation.
Contributing to the severity of the accident was the operation of the Double B vehicle at a speed in excess of the posted limit, creating a speed differential between the Double B truck and the other involved vehicles, and the Double B truckdriver’s failure to properly secure the automobile being transported on his vehicle’s head ramp.
As a result of its investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board made 18 recommendations which are included in the report.