Washington County VA

Investigators piece together Trail Days accident

DAMASCUS, Va. - The investigation continues after a car hit more than 50 people in a Damascus parade.

Damascus Police Chief Bill Nunley has spoken with the Commonwealth's Attorney and so far no charges have been filed. We learned Monday that because of the number of people involved, this investigation will take time.

In shocking video caught by an eyewitness of Saturday's Appalachian Trail Days accident, you can hear people screaming as hikers move quickly to stop a runaway car from hitting even more hikers.

Jennifer Windisch's camper was parked right next to the bridge, and she tells us it was simply chaos. "Hearing the 'thuds,' it was like you knew something wasn't right," she said.

Police believe the driver of the 1997 Cadillac that hit the hikers could have had some kind of medical emergency and was going 15 to 25 miles per hour.

Few details are being released about the driver, but we did learn he's a Shady Valley, Tennessee resident in his 80s who was a previous Appalachian Trail hiker wanting to take part in this year's parade.

"There's always the possibility of charges, but we're too early in the investigation," Chief Nunley said of the man.

As of Monday there are still many unanswered questions. There are orange markings on both side of the bridge; that's because a crash team was out there trying to reconstruct how this accident happened. "When he got to the right side of the road on Laurel Avenue he started striking bystanders," Nunley said. "The vehicle slowly veered to the left and went into the hiker parade, colliding with some parked cars."

The accident is raising questions on safety for next year's Trail Days event according to town mayor Jack McCrady. "Local folks that are on the sidewalk will be required to stay on the sidewalk, not edge out into the street," he said.

Chief Nunley is asking for anyone who took video or pictures during the parade to contact investigators. We'll continue to cover this case as more details emerge.

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