I had no idea that the West Virginia turnpike had its own Wikipedia page, which can be found here. It contains a lot of interesting facts about the turnpike that I was unaware of. Interestingly, it details the first car accident on the turnpike.
The first accident occurred on November 5, 1955 at 12:05 AM at MP 55. Ray Gould dropped off the road, soared off a cliff, and then to the streets of Milburn on Paint Creek beneath the highway after he fell asleep at the wheel of his vehicle. The accident left him with a fractured back, fractured skull, fractured face, crushed shoulders, and assorted dislocations.
Because of the accident, Gould said he is still a “big fan of the highway but won’t drive after dark.” Thankfully, Gould did not have any lasting injuries as a result of the accident.
He adds, “It’s a wonderful highway. Turnpike was a fantastic feat. But people abused it and foreigners didn’t understand it.”
Gould was heading to Charleston to pick up an employee of C&P Telephone who was flying from Wheeling to Charleston for training. He adds, “I did not want her staying there alone. My wife and I came in our personal car to pick her up. I had to take a company car back. So I drove the company car and she and my wife followed me.”
Gould said he awoke briefly during his fall. “I woke up in midair noticing the headlights weren’t shining on anything and it was extra quiet. That’s all I remembered for three weeks.”
On his way down the embankment, Gould said his car hit a rock. He adds that, “if I had not, I could have smashed into a house where seven children were sleeping.” He later learned that he was strapped onto a board by coal miners who saw him come crashing down into their town.
“The miners saw me trying to walk. I took a few steps and fell. They grabbed me and strapped me to a board. I attributed my survival to mine safety training.” Gould said that his wife and the employee did not see the accident. “They thought that I had gone around the next bend. She went on home thinking I had gone on.”
– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Car Accident Attorney.