Two people were killed on the night of Tuesday, February 25 in a wreck on Interstate 81 caused by a reckless driver.
Isaac Santos, 38, died instantaneously and his wife, 48-year-old Linda Solorzano, from Buffalo N.Y. died shortly after midnight in a medical helicopter that was transporting her to the University of Virginia Medical Center after their van was struck by the tractor-trailer driven by 33-year-old Santa Ana, California native Uy Tan Hong. Hong and another person in the tractor-trailer received non-life-threatening injuries.
Santos and Solorzano were were traveling from North Carolina to Buffalo, as they were helping their daughter move back home. Police said that the daughter witnessed the wreck from a vehicle she was traveling behind the van in.
Emergency personnel called the wreck one of the worst they've ever seen. According to 1st Sgt. Bryan Hutcheson of the Virginia State Police said that the vehicles collided at full speed.
The Harrisonburg Fire Department and Rescue Squad responded to the wreck at mile marker 244.7 shortly before 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
According to police, the 2001 Peterbilt tractor-trailer Hong was driving veered from the southbound lane, crossed the median, and struck the van head-on. The two vehicles landed in a roughly 20-foot ditch east of the interstate's northbound lanes. While in the ditch, the truck jackknifed and shredded the van.
The interstate was shut down in both directions for several hours because of the wreck.
Hutcheson said that Hong was charged with reckless driving, but there are likely to be no additional charges filed. He said that they believe Hong was distracted from within the truck and had taken his eyes off the road.
Four medical helicopters were initially dispatched to the scene, but only two were needed to take patients to the Charlottesville medical center. Solorzano was a passenger in one, the other carried 41-year-old Ha M. Tuan, Hong's passenger, who was listed in good condition as of Wednesday.