UPDATE @ 6:00pm
CHELYAN, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Traffic flow along the West Virginia Turnpike returned to normal Wednesday after two tractor-trailers collided early Tuesday, halting motorists for nearly 15 hours.
One of the truck drivers, 69-year-old Gary Shrout of Leesburg, Ohio, died as a result of the crash. The double box tractor-trailer Shrout was driving jackknifed and spilled chemicals on the roadway. Nine fire departments and several law enforcement agencies responded to the scene.
Greg Barr, general manager of the Parkways Authority, said hazmat teams couldn't free up the roadway until all of the hazardous materials were contained. He said emergency workers had to be decontaminated, and a plan to reroute traffic failed when a truck became stuck under in an underpass.
After nearly 15 hours, motorists were finally able to proceed. They didn't have to pay toll at the Chelyan toll booth.
"We made that decision because it was the right thing to do for customers and citizens stuck so long in that traffic," Barr said.
Tim McClain of Michigan said he felt fortunate to have missed the gridlock by just a few hours.
State agencies soon will meet to review the situation and see if there needs to be more alternate route signs to help prevent another motorist nightmare.
UPDATE @ 3:05pm
The West Virginia Turnpike Authority reports that all lanes of traffic on I-77 are back open. Crews opened up the remaining lanes at 2:20pm.
The accident scene at the 77 mile marker is now cleared up, according to both WSAZ.com readers stuck in the traffic and the turnpike authority.
Traffic is reported to be backed up for at least 12 miles, according to dispatchers.
Metro is also reporting another accident at the 77 mile marker in the north bound lanes. There are three cars and a box truck involved. No one was hurt.
Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for more information.
A HAZMAT team has been called in to clean up the spilled chemicals.
Southbound: All traffic is being diverted off at the Chelyan exit, through Cabin Creek, and re-entering I-77 at the Sharon exit.
Northbound: All traffic is being diverted off at the Sharon exit, through Cabin Creek, and re-entering I-77 at the Chelyan exit.
The accident happened at 2:05 p.m. Tuesday near the Chelyan exit. A Kanawha County emergency services dispatcher says the driver was ejected when the truck carrying an undetermined chemical left the southbound lanes.
The dispatcher says emergency crews have yet to identify the chemical, although state environmental crews were not summoned. Metal being transported on the truck also went crashing onto a nearby road.
The victim's name hasn't been released pending notification of relatives.
The dispatcher says another accident occurred near the Paint Creek exit in the northbound lanes at 3:45 p.m. The second wreck involved a tractor-trailer and a car.
Kanawha County Metro 911 tells WSAZ.com that the crash happened in the southbound lanes just south of the Chelyan exit. Both trucks involved were hauling metal.
Dispatchers say one of the drivers was thrown from his truck and is reported to be in critical condition.
WSAZ has a crew on the way to the scene. Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for more information.