By Stefanie Jackson
The truck driver who died after his tractor-trailer went over the side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel nearly four months ago had alcohol and drugs in his system at the time of the crash, an autopsy report recently revealed.
Jervone Hall, 33, of Millsboro, Del., had a blood alcohol level of about .062 percent at the time of the crash. According to Virginia law, this is below the legal limit of .08 percent for regular drivers but above the legal limit of .04 percent for commercial truck drivers.
Blood tests revealed Hall also had multiple drugs in his system: cocaine, benzoylecgonine (an indicator of cocaine), methamphetamine, amphetamine, ephedrine/pseudoephedrine, and THC (an indicator of marijuana).
Hall had a history of drug abuse, according to the autopsy report.
Among his personal effects was a black pouch containing two syringes, two capsules, one of which contained white powder, a cigarette lighter, a straw, a napkin, three Q-tips, a nail, a piece of wire, and a foil wrapper.
Hall died by drowning. His body showed no signs of blunt force trauma and there was no competing cause of death, the autopsy stated.
The accident occurred on July 27 at approximately 6:30 p.m. during heavy rain while the speed limit on the bridge-tunnel was reduced to 35 mph. Hall was driving southbound when his vehicle struck the rear of a van traveling ahead of him.
The van was forced into the guard-rail, bounced off the guardrail into the rear of the tractor-trailer, and spun to a stop across the right travel lane. The tractor-trailer crashed through the guardrail and into the water below.
Traffic was stopped at the bridge-tunnel’s north plaza for about two hours. The four passengers of the van were treated by EMS personnel from Cape Charles Rescue Service and released, and they made written statements to police.
The U.S. Coast Guard began its search for the tractor-trailer, and maintenance personnel prepared to begin repairing the damage to the bridge. By 9:30 p.m. traffic was flowing steadily again with the 35 mph reduced speed still in effect.
By about 6:30 a.m. on July 28, a diving crew had arrived. They located the truck and the body of Hall’s passenger, 29-year-old Christopher Fenner, in the cab.
At approximately 1:54 p.m. a crane lifted the cab out of the water and placed it on a barge. Virginia Beach police and fire personnel were unable to remove the body from the truck cab. The barge was transported to Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel property at Little Creek, where a vehicle extrication was per-formed, meaning the vehicle had to be taken apart to remove the body.
Hall’s body was recovered on July 29 about seven or eight miles away from the scene and was identified by his brother, Darnell Hall, in a photo shown to him by police.
Darnell Hall, also a truck driver, had been traveling a few minutes behind his brother at the time of the accident. Both men were drivers for the Rennie Hunt trucking company. Darnell Hall stopped at the bridge-tunnel’s south plaza when he was unable to reach his brother by cell phone and he suspected his brother was the one involved in the accident.
The driver of the van, Angel Luis Cruz Alicea, 53, of Allentown, Pa., was not at fault in the accident, nor was he under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Jervone Hall was following too close, the crash report stated.
Both the van and the tractor-trailer were totaled, and about $70,000 worth of damage was done to the bridge-tunnel roadway, curb, guardrail, and a light pole.
By Stefanie Jackson