The Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office has officially confirmed the deaths of two women in a tragic single-vehicle accident in Martinsburg the morning of Dec. 25. The accident reportedly happened on Interstate 81 in West Virginia. The families of both deceased parties have been notified, but their identities are still being withheld pending the autopsy report. As with many motor vehicle accidents, it may be some time before authorities determine its cause.
According to the limited information available in the report, it appears the vehicle was traveling northbound on I-81 around 4 a.m. when the accident happened. It appears the vehicle left the highway and crashed into a pole near exit 14, causing the vehicle to catch fire. By the time authorities arrived, the vehicle was engulfed in flames, and both occupants, two women, were already deceased.
A preliminary investigation suggests the driver may have failed to stop after exiting the interstate, causing the vehicle to strike the utility pole. It is unclear at this time whether intoxication, recklessness or negligence are being considered potential factors in the tragic crash. The Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office has requested the support of the community in determining the cause of the crash, and they have asked anyone with knowledge of the accident to please reach out to authorities.
The investigation will continue until a cause for the crash is found. If it turns out the driver was intoxicated or operating her vehicle in an unsafe way that materially led to the accident, the family of the deceased passenger may have legal recourse. West Virginia law allows families who have lost members to motor vehicle accidents to file wrongful death suits in civil court. When the driver responsible is also deceased, the suit falls to the driver’s estate and/or anyone else with ownership interest in the vehicle.