Snow squall causes 50 cars to pile up on Pennsylvania highway
Several people have been killed and more than two dozen injured after a blinding snow squall caused a fiery pileup of at least 50 vehicles, including several tractor-trailers, on a Pennsylvania highway on Monday, authorities said. .
The chain reaction occurred around 10:36 a.m. on Interstate 81 in Schuylkill County about 50 miles northeast of Harrisburg, Pa., where a squall of early spring wintry weather swamped drivers in the northbound lanes. On Tuesday, as rescuers worked to clear wreckage from the freeway, state police confirmed that there have been deaths but said they were still working to get an accurate total.
The wreckage was “far from clear” of the roadway, Private David Beohm, a Pennsylvania State Police spokesman, said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.
“We searched all the vehicles that weren’t on fire,” he said.
The Associated Press reported that at least three people were killed.
Pennsylvania State Police said two dozen people injured in Monday’s crash were taken to four area hospitals. Others who were injured but needed to get away from the wreckage were taken off the scene by bus, state police said.
“Road conditions when the burst arrived contributed to the accident,” John Blickley, spokesman for the Schuylkill County Office of Emergency Management, said Monday.
Pennsylvania State Police said the Twitter Monday afternoon that 50 to 60 vehicles were involved in the pileup and a fire was burning at the scene.
The pile rumbled through traffic for several miles down the highway, making it difficult for rescuers to reach the wreckage, which authorities said stretched for about a mile. the threat of additional snow squalls further complicated these efforts, prompting authorities to close the highway for several hours. The southbound lanes of the freeway reopened Monday afternoon.
A driver involved in the pileup captured the chain reaction on video in this case, and the reduced visibility encountered by motorists. The video, which received widespread attention on social media, showed a convoy of tractor-trailers ramming into each other and skidding down the highway.
In the video, the driver of a sedan narrowly avoided being hit by another car after hitting a road sign on the shoulder. One person could be heard shouting “go, go, go” as the man recording the footage urged other drivers to “be careful”.
Some drivers who got out of their cars ran into the woods as more cars and trucks slammed into idling vehicles on the highway.
The man who captured the chaotic footage expressed disbelief as an SUV drove into his Dodge Charger.
“My car is gone,” he shouted.
It was the second time in just over a month that a snow squall was responsible for a major pileup on Interstate 81 in Schuylkill County. On Feb. 19, five people were injured in a pileup involving about 50 vehicles near McAdoo, Pa., about 25 miles northeast of where the pileup occurred on Monday, according to local media. None of these injuries were life threatening.