Apparent Suicide Closes I-581 in Roanoke for Hours

Roanoke, VA - It was a terrible situation for drivers in Roanoke Thursday morning after state police say a man threw himself off of an overpass and into traffic.

Several drivers ended up running over him. It also caused all sorts of rush hour traffic problems; investigators had to close down one direction of 5-81 for several hours.

State Police say traffic came to a halt on southbound I-581 just before 7 a.m. Thursday after drivers called 911 saying a man had been hit on the highway.

Investigators say witnesses reported seeing a man sitting on the ledge of the Hershberger Road overpass just before the accident.

At least four vehicles hit the man, who died at the scene.

"It was dark out. They knew they ran over something, so they stopped. Apparently one person said they thought it was a deer. But like I said, it was dark out so they weren't able to see the body, which was in the center lane, southbound section," said Sgt. Bob Carpentieri with Virginia State Police.

It all forced authorities to shut down I-581 southbound. That meant both north and southbound exits off of I-81 at the 143 mile marker were sealed. Before long, traffic was backed up more than three miles in both directions.

"It's going to be treated as a crime scene, so they have to document everything, take pictures," said Carpentieri.

Until the investigation is done, it has to be considered a crime.

State police have also yet to identify the man. They say they believe he may be transient because he was carrying out of state ID, which is making family notification difficult.

In all, it took investigators about four hours to clear the accident scene. Once they did, traffic on I-581 and the interstate quickly got back to normal.