Six people are injured and a man has been charged with a DUI after he drove in the wrong direction on I-495 in Fairfax County, causing a chain-reaction crash early Thursday morning. The crash closed the the Inner Loop of the Capital Beltway for about five hours.
Virginia State Police received a call about a Nissan Leaf heading south in the northbound lanes of I-495 near Braddock Road just after 3 a.m.
Seconds after troopers were dispatched to the scene, the Nissan struck a BMW SUV head on, police said in a news release. The Nissan then ran off the road and hit a guardrail.
“The damage to those two vehicles was pretty substantial as far as debris scattered throughout the lanes,” Corinne Geller, spokesperson for Virginia State Police, told WTOP.
The driver of the BMW and a passenger had exited their car, which was still in the travel lanes, to check on each other and survey the damage when a northbound Honda Civic struck the BMW, injuring both people standing next to it.
“It’s difficult to know what was going through their minds as far as getting out of the vehicle. Most people are in shock at that moment,” Geller said.
Two other cars, also traveling northbound, then crashed into debris from the impact of the first crash. The damage from those two crashes was minor, Geller said.
A total of six people were injured in the crash involving five cars. The driver and passenger of the BMW, who were standing by it when they were hit by the Honda Civic, have life-threatening injuries.
The investigation is ongoing. Police have not yet identified the man charged with the DUI or any of those injured.
Below is a map of the area of the crash.
WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report.