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WSAZ Investigates | Tragic Turn

WSAZ Investigates | Tragic Turn
Published: May. 19, 2022 at 6:33 PM EDT
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LOGAN COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - A string of accidents through the years has cut the lives of at least 10 people short. All the crashes have one thing in common: they happened at the same intersection along state Route 119 and Old Logan Road in Logan County.

Families have been devastated by the losses, so WSAZ reached out to the West Virginia Division of Highways to see what is being done to prevent even more fatalities.

Tiffany Gross lost her dad at the intersection. She said April 13, 2021 is a day that replays in her mind over and over again.

“I still have nightmares,” Gross said. " I hear him scream out in my sleep.”

Tiffany said she and her kids saw the whole accident happen. Gross was following her dad along Route 119 when tragedy happened in front of their eyes.

“He pulled off of Old Logan Road toward Logan and he was T-boned,” Gross said.

Tiffany said she pulled over and ran to her dad to check on him.

Gross is not alone. Her pain is also felt by Kaylee Bannister who is just 14 years old.

Bannister lost her grandmother at the same intersection on April 8, 2022.

Deputies say a truck was turning into Old Logan Road as Linda Lee was driving north toward Charleston. The truck hit the driver side of Lee’s car, killing her. The accident also left Bannister’s mom injured, who was also in the car in the front seat.

The news of her grandmother’s death was devastating.

“She was always there for me, and now she can’t be and it breaks my heart,” Bannister said.

WSAZ started digging for answers and found since 2017, that we have reported on eight deaths caused by accidents at the intersection of Route 119 and Old Logan Road. The wrecks involve drivers turning into the off-road or turn out of it.

WSAZ also found it is one of the only major intersections in Logan County without a traffic light.

The Logan County Sheriff’s Office patrols the intersection. Lt. Brian Cobb has worked it for 17 years and said he has seen far too many fatal accidents in that spot.

I do think there needs to be something done by the Department of Highways. I have roughly worked about 10 fatalities at that particular intersection over my career and that is just me alone that is not the other 25 guys on the department.

Lt. Brian Cobb, Logan County Sheriff's Office

Lt. Cobb said heading north into the curve right before the intersection speed is an issue and these signs are not enough.

“Do you think the 55 signs help there?” said WSAZ’s Kim Rafferty.

“I don’t, I doubt anyone pays attention to it, just to be honest,” said Lt. Cobb.

WSAZ went to county leaders, including Commission President Danny Godby.

“We have reported on eight deaths there since 2017,” Rafferty said.

“At the Old Logan Road? Yes it is, and there has been other accidents too,” said Commission President Godby.

Godby said he called DOH after the most recent accident that killed Linda Lee.

Rafferty: “Do you think this was kind of the tipping point as far as like okay now we are going to have to do something about this?”

I think there has been a lot of outcry since this last accident has occurred. Not saying there was not any before, but I think people are now thinking more about this.

Danny Godby, Logan County Commission President

Godby said he has talked multiple times with DOH about what can be done to prevent more fatal accidents.

WSAZ asked DOH about the deaths at the intersection and what changes they plan to make.

A spokesperson ignored our request for an interview but told us they are actively reviewing the intersection for potential improvements.

Those improvements include restricting left turns from the side street, Old Logan Road and adding a traffic light.

WSAZ asked for a timeline for a decision on those options.

The review being conducted is to develop concepts, so the design and construction schedules will be dictated by the complexity of the option chosen.

Division of Highways spokesperson

For Tiffany Gross and Kaylee Bannister, they just wish they could talk to their loved ones again.

“If I was still able, I would say not to take that way that day and I would tell him that I love him more than anything,” Gross said.

Forced to move forward without them but hoping the intersection that has taken some of life’s most precious gifts now leads to changes that will spare other families the same heartache.

Commissioner Godby said after several fatal accidents happened at the intersection a mile north of the Route 119 and Old Logan Road intersection in Chapmanville, a traffic light was installed and has likely saved lives.

The DOH said they are installing rumble strips on the side of the road and they say crews recently trimmed brush along the road to increase sight distance for drivers.

WSAZ will update on the long-term potential changes to the intersection as soon as the decision is made.

Here is a list of the previous fatal accidents WSAZ has reported since 2017:

June 12, 2017

April 18, 2018

March 23, 2019

March 24, 2020

April 13, 2021

April 8, 2022

Tiffany Gross created a petition to see change at the intersection in 2021, here is the link to that petition.

Kaylee Bannister has also created this group on Facebook to connect with other people who have lost those they love in a traffic accident.

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