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Trucker charged after fiery crash

WYTHE COUNTY — A North Carolina trucker was charged Thursday in a fiery wreck that hindered north-bound traffic on Interstate 81 for much of the day.
Virginia State Police Sgt. Michael T. Conroy said James Duff, 77, of Gastonia, N.C., was charged with following too close in the approximately noon wreck at mile marker 87 near the Wythe County-Pulaski County line.
According to Conroy, a north-bound tractor-trailer was traveling slowly with its hazard lights in operation after having a tire go flat. He said Duff’s truck allegedly plowed into the back of the slow-moving truck, causing Duff’s truck to burst into flames.
Another motorist apparently pulled Duff from the truck, preventing him from suffering serious or fatal injuries.
Both Duff and the other truck driver, 47-year-old Dushan Palaic of Cleveland, Ohio, initially refused treatment at the scene.
However, they later were taken to a hospital, where they apparently were treated and released, according to Conroy.
While Duff’s truck was a total loss, Conroy estimated the damage to the other truck and its load of spooled wire to be about $10,000.
The north-bound lanes of the interstate were closed for about 45 minutes before traffic was detoured around the wreck.
Conroy said the north-bound lanes still were down to one lane as of rush hour Thursday evening.

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Trucker charged after fiery crash

WYTHE COUNTY — A North Carolina trucker was charged Thursday in a fiery wreck that hindered north-bound traffic on Interstate 81 for much of the day.
Virginia State Police Sgt. Michael T. Conroy said James Duff, 77, of Gastonia, N.C., was charged with following too close in the approximately noon wreck at mile marker 87 near the Wythe County-Pulaski County line.
According to Conroy, a north-bound tractor-trailer was traveling slowly with its hazard lights in operation after having a tire go flat. He said Duff’s truck allegedly plowed into the back of the slow-moving truck, causing Duff’s truck to burst into flames.
Another motorist apparently pulled Duff from the truck, preventing him from suffering serious or fatal injuries.
Both Duff and the other truck driver, 47-year-old Dushan Palaic of Cleveland, Ohio, initially refused treatment at the scene.
However, they later were taken to a hospital, where they apparently were treated and released, according to Conroy.
While Duff’s truck was a total loss, Conroy estimated the damage to the other truck and its load of spooled wire to be about $10,000.
The north-bound lanes of the interstate were closed for about 45 minutes before traffic was detoured around the wreck.
Conroy said the north-bound lanes still were down to one lane as of rush hour Thursday evening.

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