Tractor-Trailer Nearly Strikes Firefighter

Firefighters Say Drivers Need To Be More Cautious

Posted: February 18, 2013

Daily News-Record

HARRISONBURG — A tractor-trailer driver who sped through an accident scene on Interstate 81 early Monday morning nearly struck a Harrisonburg firefighter as his truck smashed into a guardrail, according to police and emergency crews.

William Hawthorne, 56, of Greenville, S.C., was charged with reckless driving, driving with a suspended license and failing to yield for emergency vehicles.

Sgt. Les Tyler of the Virginia State Police said Hawthorne was taken to the Rockingham County Jail and is being held without bond. Police in South Carolina previously issued an arrest warrant for Hawthorne for violating his probation, Tyler said.

Tyler said the investigation began shortly before 2:30 a.m. when a 2004 Honda Pilot, driven by Jessica Bryant, 29, of Bronx, N.Y., ran off the left side of the road on I-81 northbound near Exit 247.

Tyler said she struck a guardrail, bounced off and hit a 2008 Dodge Ram pickup truck.

There were no injuries in that crash. Bryant was charged with making an unsafe lane change.

As a result of the crash, the Harrisonburg Fire Department was dispatched to the scene to help with the cleanup.
While firefighters were at the scene, Tyler said, a 2000 Volvo tractor-trailer, driven by Hawthorne, sped through the area, ran of the left side of the road and struck a guardrail, just missing an HFD firefighter in the process. The wreck closed the northbound lanes for about an hour.

Battalion Chief Brett Hartt said motorists need to adhere to the state’s “move over” law, which requires motorists to slow down and move over when approaching vehicles with flashing blue, red or amber lights.

“The interstate is very dangerous,” said Hartt. “Motorists need to pay attention and slow down,” he said. 

Contact Pete DeLea at 574-6278 or 

NDN Video News