UPDATE: Woman charged with DUI causing death after I-64 bridge crash

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UPDATE 5/8/17 @ 4 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The woman who police say caused a fatal car crash where a car plummeted more than 80 feet off an I-64 bridge has been arrested.

Elizabeth Lewis, 40, of Ashland, turned herself in Monday, according to Huntington police. She's charged with DUI causing death.

Police say Lewis caused a multiple vehicle crash on April 7 at the 4-mile marker of I-64.

Lewis was unresponsive following the wreck. The complaint states a passenger in the car said they'd been using drugs.

During that accident, a vehicle was pushed off the bridge over Spring Valley Drive. The vehicle fell more than 80 feet before hitting the ground.

The driver, Jerrell Simmons, was taken to the hospital in stable but critical condition. He died as a result of his injuries on April 28.

Court records say on the way to the hospital, EMS workers determined Lewis was suffering from an opioid overdose.

They administered narcan and observed an immediate reaction.

The complaint says Lewis struggeld with medical personnel at the hospital while they were trying to treat her, yelling and pushing people, and she had to be restrained by the staff.

She had a significant amount of injection sites in both her arms, which were in various stages of healing, the complaint says.

The complaint says a DMV records check confirmed prior to the accident, Lewis's license had already been revoked for DUI in 2009.

She had a previous conviction for suspended revoked license for DUI in 2011.

Police say Lewis had been treated at a hospital for injuries she suffered in the crash.

She was released from the hospital, and on Monday she turned herself in.

Her bond was set at $750,000 cash only.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 4/28/17 @ 2:05 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Family members tell WSAZ a man has died after a car plummeted more than 80 feet off a bridge on I-64.

Family say Jerrell Simmons died Friday surrounded by his family.

Simmons died because of brain trauma according to family members.

Police described the crash as a series of collisions involving two tractor-trailers and three cars. During the incident, Jerrell's car was pushed off the side of a bridge on I64.

Police say it appears the driver of the car that caused the crash was high on heroin.

No word on if any charges will be facing the driver responsible for causing the crash.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 4/10/17 @ 11 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Family members are saying it's a miracle their loved one survived after his car plummeted more than 80 feet off a bridge.

"There's no way he should've survived it," Lane Simmons, the driver's son, said.

Lane's father, 70-year-old Jerrell Simmons, is being treated at Cabell Huntington Hospital.

"You look at the total of what you'd call evidence, and he shouldn't be here," Lane said.

Police described the crash Friday morning as a series of collisions involving two tractor-trailers and three cars. During the incident, Jerrell's car was pushed off the side of a bridge on I64.

Lane drove to Huntington from his home in Missouri after learning about the wreck. He went to the crash site near Spring Valley Road to see with his own eyes how far his father fell.

"In that moment you kind of get that sense of wow, this was a huge deal," he said. "This was a big drop. That's when you realize he shouldn't have been alive when they found him, and he was."

The injuries are extensive to say the least.

Lane says he suffered broken bones in his neck and legs, punctured lungs, and a fractured vertebrae in the lower back.

Police say it appears the driver of the car that caused the crash was high on heroin.

"As far as how it happened and why it happened, you don't really have a lot of mental capacity to kind of worry about that right now," Lane said. "The court will take care of that."

Lane and his family are just grateful Jerrell's heart is still beating.

"We're looking at it as a miracle, and we're going forward that way," Lane said. "It just feels like we were being helped by God. Our faith is kind of bolstered by that."

Lane says his father, a retired insurance salesman, was on his way home from grocery shopping at the time of the crash, and that he was just about a mile away from his exit.

He says the doctors are prioritizing what needs to be fixed on his father's body first, and they're looking at multiple surgeries.

Lane says his dad briefly woke up from sedation just once since the crash.

"I gave him some verbal communication to squeeze his hands and wiggle his toes, which he was able to do," Lane said, "and that was just for a few minutes, and they put him back out."

Lane says amazingly his father did not suffer head trauma or brain damage.



UPDATE 4/8/17 @ 9:45 p.m.
WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Police say a crash that closed part of I-64 for over five hours and sent a car over the side of a bridge and falling over 80 feet, was all likely caused because of a driver high on heroin.

The crash happened a little before 11 a.m. Friday and included two tractor trailers, and three cars in the Westmoreland area of the interstate near the 4-mile marker over Spring Valley Road.

Police describe the crash as "a series of collisions" that involved two tractor-trailers and three passenger cars.

Police say the driver of one of the cars, as well as a passenger, were likely impaired by heroin. Both were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The driver of the car that went over the bridge was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.

The crash was the second one within a week in the Westmoreland area that police say was caused by someone under the influence.

A week prior to the crash on I-64, a driver crashed into a ‘Welcome to Westmoreland’ sign that caused significant damage to a sign erected completely by donations and support by people who live in Westmoreland.

The crashes are both signs of the troubling drug epidemic the region faces and how it can affect not just the lives of those on drugs, but innocent bystanders. But the citizens of Westmoreland are not taking the incidents in their town lightly. They’re making sure they are doing what they can to keep drugs out and their town clean and safe for families.

“I think what we pride ourselves on here in Westmoreland, if you drive through our streets you don't see litter, you see yards, you see properties that are well taken care of,” said Carole Boster. Boster is the president of the Westmoreland Neighborhood Association. “It is not a community that looks welcoming to criminals and people involved in drug activity. If someone tries that, which they have a couple times, we're really quick to report anything that we think is suspicious.”

Boster says the association has distributed over 400 signs in front yards promoting the group and their mission to keep the area clean.

Boster says drug abuse isn’t just something that takes a toll on the life of those who are on drugs, but others as well.

“I think behind every person who abuses drugs, there are many people who are affected. It’s not just that person. It’s their family, their friends. It’s the people who are on the road who may become their victim. I think it’s something where we need to constantly be aware of our surroundings.”

To combat the drug epidemic Boster says the neighborhood association has introduced several programs that promote drug prevention and teaching children the importance of saying no.

One of the programs is called, ‘Give Me An Excuse’ which is sponsored by a company that supplies parents with home drug kits. It gives children an alibi when being peer pressured to take drugs. Boster says the program has had a positive response from parents concerned for their children’s safety and health.

Boster says anything that can be done to keep drug activity down and battle the epidemic and prevent a third crash from happening.

Wayne County Prosecutor Tom Plymale is looking at the evidence, and charges are possible.

Along with Huntington Police, Huntington, Ceredo and Kenova firefighters, along with Cabell County EMS, Wayne County Sheriff’s Deputies, West Virginia State Police, WV State Fire Marshals and Cabell County Home Confinement, all responded to the scene.

UPDATE 4/7/17 @ 5:45 p.m.
WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- All westbound lanes of Interstate 64 are back open after a car wreck that is a nightmare for any driver. A car flew off the edge of I-64 around 10:50 a.m. Friday, dropping an estimated 85 feet.

It was part of a five-vehicle collision in the Westmoreland area that shut the interstate down for more than five hours.

Police now say that one of the drivers was likely under the influence of heroin.

Erica Ramsey and Frankie Crabtree, students at Spring Valley High School, watched it happen from the road below.

"All of a sudden, I see a car, shooting off the bridge," Ramsey said.

Crabtree had been driving.

The girls were heading back to school after lunch and didn’t know what happened on the interstate above.

"It was traumatizing,” Ramsey said.

Huntington police say two semis and three cars wrecked in a series of collisions on I-64. The concrete still shows the evidence of the one pushed over the edge, into the ravine next to Spring Valley Road.

"I was so shocked,” said Ramsey. “I've never seen anything like it. I was very scared for the person and for his family."

The girls pulled over immediately and tried to help, but the bank was too slick and they couldn't get down.

Even first responders had trouble removing the man. Both the front and back ends were destroyed by the various impacts.

"I did feel helpless because there's nothing really I could do,” Ramsey said. “I couldn't go down there and help him."

"We were shaking and crying because we were just so scared for that guy," added Crabtree.

Another witness called 911. The girls called their parents who were nearby.

Emergency sirens never sounded so good.

"I was relieved that they were there to help, that somebody could get down there and help him," Ramsey said.

"We were there praying with a lady that was over there,” adds Crabtree. “We were just hoping he'd be OK."

A crash straight out of a Hollywood movie, happening right in front of them on a road Crabtree says she drives all the time.

“Every day. It's scary. It's definitely shocking to see something like that."

The westbound lanes were closed for about five and a half hours.

Police said three people were taken to the hospital, the person who went off the edge, as well as another driver and passenger who were impaired, likely from heroin. While their injuries are not considered life-threatening, the person who went off the edge does have injuries that are life-threatening.

The cause of the crash is under investigation. Criminal charges are possible.



UPDATE 4/7/17 @ 5:25 p.m.
WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- I-64 West is back open after a wreck Friday morning.

The road reopened just after 5 p.m.

Huntington Police say five vehicles were involved on an I-64 bridge that spans Spring Valley Road near the 4-mile marker. The crash was reported about 10:50 a.m.

One car went over the bridge and plunged nearly 85 feet into a creek near the Spring Valley Bridge.

Three people were taken to Cabell Huntington Hospital, including one with life-threatening injuries.

Police describe the crash as "a series of collisions" that involved two tractor-trailers and three passenger cars.

Police say the driver of one of the cars, as well as a passenger, were likely impaired by heroin. Both were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Wayne County Prosecutor Tom Plymale is looking at the evidence, and charges are possible.



UPDATE 4/7/17 @ 3:50 p.m.
WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- More details have been released in a multi-vehicle crash Friday morning that still has Interstate 64 West closed at 17th Street West, including information that one driver likely was impaired by heroin.

Huntington Police say five vehicles were involved on an I-64 bridge that spans Spring Valley Road near the 4-mile marker. The crash was reported about 10:50 a.m.

One car went over the bridge and plunged nearly 85 feet into a creek near the Spring Valley Bridge.

Three people were taken to Cabell Huntington Hospital, including one with life-threatening injuries.

Police describe the crash as "a series of collisions" that involved two tractor-trailers and three passenger cars.

Police say the driver of one of the cars, as well as a passenger, were likely impaired by heroin. Both were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Wayne County Prosecutor Tom Plymale is looking at the evidence, and charges are possible.

Along with Huntington Police, Huntington, Ceredo and Kenova firefighters, along with Cabell County EMS, Wayne County Sheriff’s Deputies, West Virginia State Police, WV State Fire Marshals and Cabell County Home Confinement, all responded to the scene.



ORIGINAL STORY
WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- I-64 West is shut down in the area of the Spring Valley bridge overpass after a wreck involving several vehicles.

Cabell County dispatchers tell WSAZ a car went off the interstate onto the Spring Valley bridge below.

Huntington Police Chief Joe Ciccarelli says the westbound lanes of I-64 are closed at the 17th Street West exit.

No word on injuries at this time.

The Spring Valley bridge overpass is around the 4 mile marker of I-64.

The interstate is expected to be closed for some time.

We have a crew heading to the scene.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.




 
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