A crash on the HRBT caused a nearly three-hour backup on Tuesday morning.

Ed Brown said he was in the car directly behind where the accident happened in the tunnel, and he said it just took seconds for the damage to occur.

“It happened in less than a second, everything was already stopped. Cars were elevated and the truck too of course,” said Brown.

VA State police said just before 8:30 Tuesday morning, 22-year-old William Lewis Marakos was driving his F-350 bucket truck into the tunnel when he swerved to avoid traffic.

“I kind of saw the bucket truck ramble up and turn sideways, and then it got loud when the truck went to the wall. Then I saw another pickup truck that was on the other side of the wall,” said Brown.

Police said the bucket truck rear-ended another vehicle and then swerved straight into the path of a 6,500-gallon tanker truck.

“People were just trying to make sure everyone was accounted for, and no one was pinned in their car. I think secondary reaction for me and others was is there going to be any kind of flame up or explosion because you’re in a tunnel,” said Brown. 

Brown said he makes the commute across the HRBT every day, and if it wasn’t for that driving experience, he would have been part of the accident too.

“Just a second or two earlier and I could have been in it. You go down in the tunnel, but then it levels out. Cars just kind of bottleneck from where they start going back up again, and pretty much every day it stops in the same spot. So, that’s why I know as an experienced tunnel driver that you just keep your distance from behind,” said Brown. 

Brown said more people should stay back when driving in the tunnel to avoid accidents.

“Insurance and stuff like that exists, but I do know it caused a lot of stress for a lot of people yesterday morning,” said Brown.

Marakos is charged with following too closely and VDOT officials billed him 25 thousand dollars for damages.

VDOT officials have billed him $25,000 for damages.