Driver identified in fatal I-66 collision after a chaotic morning commute

Traffic backed up on I-66 early Sept. 18, 2018. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

WASHINGTON — Drivers on eastbound Interstate 66 probably found Tuesday morning’s commute to be a chaotic mess after a fatal accident and a second crash just hours later in the same area.

Delays were slowly easing in the Vienna area on both I-66 and alternate routes. At 8:40 a.m., callers told WTOP Traffic that a second accident had again closed some eastbound lanes on I-66 — barely an hour after a first crash had led to backups for miles.

By 10:30 a.m., all lanes were open again. For live traffic conditions, see WTOP’s traffic page.

Virginia State Police responded to the first crash in the I-66 eastbound lanes at the 162-mile marker just after 4:30 a.m.

The crash involved four vehicles, including three pickups and a sedan. The driver of the sedan, 21-year-old Juan Bernabe Reinaga Zapata of Manassas, Va., died at the scene. Two other drivers were transported to Fairfax Inova Hospital for treatment of serious but non-life threatening injuries.

The crash remains under investigation.

Before the second crash, commuters traveling eastbound on I-66 ran into a 15-mile backup stretching all the way back through Centreville into Gainesville. Traffic was diverted onto the Fairfax County Parkway, leading to delays there.

On a normal rainy day, it’s not unusual for traffic to back up for miles on I-66, but in this case, all of the secondary roads used as alternate routes ended up in gridlock. Heavy rain overnight from Florence had already made morning commute difficult enough.

“It was insult to injury,” said WTOP Traffic reporter Mary DePompa, describing the situation on I-66 this morning. “It was so bad that I called friends and told them to telework.”

Below is a map of the area:


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