Detour signs forbidding commercial truck traffic from Sperryville’s Main Street while the U.S. 522 bridge is under construction were missed or ignored early Friday by a tractor trailer operator, whose failed, illegal right turn from Main Street onto eastbound U.S. 211 tied up traffic and turned off power to the village for about an hour and a half.
Virginia State Police spokesman Sgt. Les Tyler said the driver, Michael Kuria Mwangi, 51, of Grand Rapids, Mich., was charged with making an improper turn – a turn that took out a guardrail and wedged the truck’s trailer against a power pole, knocking loose a secondary line that runs from Mark’s Motorcycle Leather Works to the Sperryville Volunteer Rescue Squad’s building near the intersection.
County emergency services coordinator Richie Burke, also Sperryville Volunteer Fire Company’s chief, said he advised the power company to cut power to the village while a wrecker hoisted the back of the trailer back onto 211 and a Rappahannock Electric Cooperative utility truck held the pole in place. Power was out from about 6:45 to 8:15, he said.
“Our experience is that there are always people who don’t get the message,” Virginia Department of Transportation spokesman Lou Hatter said, the message being that commercial trucks are banned from Sperryville’s roads until the bridge reopens, which Hatter. The bridge replacement project is on track to be completed by Aug. 27, he said. “As the project has progressed,” he added, “the commercial drivers that are regularly taking that route are adapting.”
Tyler also reported that on June 20 at about 12:20 p.m., 47-year-old Teresa R. Lewis of Sperryville pulled out from Gid Brown Hollow Road onto westbound U.S. 211 and struck a Jeep Liberty driven by Clyde M. Pullen, 64, of Washington. Both vehicles wound up in the median. Police said Pullen’s passenger, Sandra G. Gourley, 69, of Sperryville, was injured seriously enough to be airlifted to Winchester Medical Center; Pullen and Lewis were treated at Fauquier Hospital. Lewis was charged with reckless driving, the result of a crash investigation conducted by Trooper J. E. Linkous.
According to state trooper Phillip Thomas, 35-year-old Cecelia Velasco of Winchester was on her way to work with her 13-year-old son in a Chevy pickup truck when she said that the vehicle wobbled and the brakes failed, causing her to overcorrect and lose control on the gravel road. Velasco drove through a rock wall, over an embankment and into the Jordan River, Thomas said, coming to rest on its side. Though Velasco’s son suffered minor scrapes, there were no serious injuries. Thomas said speed seemed to have been a factor in the crash; the driver was charged with driving without a license and failure to maintain proper control.