Van crashes into I-77 rest stop at Mineral Wells

MINERAL WELLS — A single-vehicle crash severely damaged the northbound rest stop along Interstate 77 south of Mineral Wells on Wednesday.

Wood County Sheriff Steve Stephens said a van driven by David A. Danforth, 35, crashed into the building where the restrooms were located. He said witnesses said the vehicle was moving at a high rate of speed.

“He jumped the curb and you don’t see any brake marks on the pavements,” Stephens said. “Speed may have been a factor.”

“He is awake and coherent,” Stephens said of Danforth at the scene. “So far that’s all we have.” Danforth remained in the hospital Wednesday.

Danforth’s driver’s license listed his address as Orchard Park, N.Y. The van’s license plates, with Danforth listed as the vehicle’s owner, were from Tennessee, Stephens said.

Stephens said the front part of the one-ton box van, which is a white, older model Chevrolet, landed in the lobby of the rest stop, taking out the wall separating the men’s restroom area from the lobby.

The incident occurred around 5:34 p.m.

Danforth appeared to be living in the cargo area of the van, Stephens said.

Mike Bailey, safety inspector from the West Virginia Division of Highways, district three, said the damage was severe.

“I would say the building is destroyed,” Bailey said. “I’ve got a buildings and grounds supervisor on his way up here now to assess the damages.”

Bailey said said the rest area will be closed until further notice.

“Luckily there are places at the Mineral Wells exit and the welcome center at Williamstown,” Bailey said.