HRBT car accident, fire injures 15

As locals, we rely on bridges and tunnels to do most of our daily commuting. Whether you’re heading to Norfolk from Portsmouth through the Downtown Tunnel or using the Monitor Merrimac to get from Suffolk to Newport News, Hampton Roads locals are experts at driving through unique structures. Unfortunately, however, accidents can occur in these tunnels – and when they do, they can be even more terrifying than your average car crash.

A July 17 wreck in the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel injured 15 people when two cars collided in the eastbound lanes of the tunnel. A Volkswagen Passat driver had been following a 2015 Acura too closely and rear-ended the car. Both cars caught fire in the collision.

At the time of the crash, there were 35 vehicles in the tunnel and up to 80 people in those cars. Virginia Department of Transportation workers tried to move the wrecked cars quickly, but the tunnel soon filled with smoke. Workers were forced to evacuate the tunnel, telling people to abandon their vehicles and head for the exits. By the time the incident ended, 15 people were injured, five of whom had to be taken to the hospital for treatment.

Authorities say the driver of the Passat was charged with following too closely. They inadvertently caused a terrifying evening for the people traveling in the tunnel at the time. The HRBT can be scary for drivers not used to underwater tunnels, but thick black smoke and flames are even more terrifying. We wish everyone injured in the accident a speedy recovery. This accident could have been far more deadly than it was.

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