LATEST: Truck driver sentenced in deadly I-77 crash


1:30 p.m. Friday, March 15, 2019 UPDATE: (AP) – An Illinois truck driver has been sentenced to more than four years in jail in an interstate crash that killed a family of four from North Carolina in southern West Virginia.

The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports family members of those killed gave emotional pleas for justice before Magistrate Sandra Dorsey sentenced 41-year-old Bertram Copeland of Rockford, Illinois, Thursday after he was convicted last week on charges of negligent homicide and reckless driving.

Officials said the southbound tractor-trailer crossed the median and struck the Gilleys’ vehicle along Interstate 77 in April 2017. Killed were David and Christine Gilley of Salisbury, North Carolina, and their two children, Jack and Grace.

Copeland blamed a mechanical failure, but the judge said she did not see evidence of “an unforeseeable mechanical error” in the crash.

UPDATE January 22, 2018: Bertram Copeland was arraigned on four counts of negligent homicide and reckless driving.

Mercer County Prosecutor, George Sitler, said the charges come after there are indications from eye witnesses that his actions may not have been appropriate once he lost control of his vehicle.

The accident happened in April 2017 near the Camp Creek exit.

David Gilley, his wife Christine, and their two children, Jack and Grace, were all killed in the accident. 

The family, from North Carolina, was on their way to see family in Ohio.

Copeland was arraigned on January 16, 2018.

UPDATE: April 14 at 11:12 p.m.: 59News is learning the identities of the people killed in an accident on Interstate 77 in the Camp Creek area of Mercer County.

It happened Thursday, April 13 at around 5:30 p.m.

According to our CBS affiliate WBTV, David Gilley, his wife Christine, and the couple’s two children, Jack and Grace, were all killed.

The family is from Rowan County, North Carolina. 

A family friend told WBTV the Gilley’s were on the way to visit family members in Ohio.  

State Police tell 59News a tractor trailer in the southbound lane lost control, crossed the median and hit the family’s SUV in the northbound lanes.

The driver of the tractor trailer was flown to Charleston Area Medical Center.   

UPDATE: April 13 at 9:15 p.m. According to West Virginia State Police Trooper Cpl. Brian Garretson, four people have died in a vehicle that was struck by a tractor trailer on I-77 near Camp Creek. Troopers said the driver of the tractor trailer was flown to Charleston Area Medical Center.  

The names of the victims have not been released.

The cause of the accident remains under investigation.

ORIGINAL STORY: Interstate 77 northbound in the area near the Camp Creek exit is experiencing delays after a tractor trailer crossed the median and hit a car in the oncoming lane. 

Mercer County 911 dispatchers said it happened at around 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 13 at mile marker 22.

Dispatchers tell 59News the driver of the tractor trailer lost control, crossed into the southbound lanes and struck a vehicle in the northbound lanes. 

Bluestone Valley Volunteer Fire Department, East River Volunteer Fire Department, Princeton Rescue Squad and West Virginia State Police responded to the scene. 

Dispatchers said a HealthNet medical helicopter transported one person from the scene.

According to WV511, two of three northbound lanes are closed. It is unclear how long it will take to clear the scene. 

The cause of the accident remains under investigation and the victim(s) condition are unknown. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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