Friday, February 14, 2014
A chain reaction of crashes involving dozens of cars and tractor-trailers has closed the eastbound lane on the Pennsylvania Turnpike near the town of Bensalem, local broadcasters report.
There appeared to be at least two separate crash sites. CNN said about 30 vehicles were involved, but other sources put the number higher.
The cause was not immediately clear, but it seems likely that the slick conditions had something to do with either the initial accident and/or the subsequent crashes.
NPR member station WHYY in Philadelphia reports:
"[Multiple] accidents along the eastbound lanes of the Turnpike from Willow Grove (Exit 343) towards Route 1 (Exit 352) in the Feasterville/Trevose area of Bucks County around 8:15 a.m. leaving dozens of vehicles wrecked.
"The wreckage included at least 16 cars and SUVs piled up behind two big rigs, a van overturned, a jackknifed tractor-trailer turned with multiple cars crashed into it and a moving van sideways on the slushy roadway -- about a 3- to 4-mile stretch."
It looked as though multiple cars couldn't brake in time, WHYY quoted SkyForce10's Jeremy Haas as saying.
At least two people were hospitalized, the station says.
Bill Capone, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, tells CNN that because of the number of vehicles involved and that many will need to be towed away, "we're looking at long-term closure" of the eastbound lane. He estimated that it would be "at least several more hours" before traffic could resume as normal.
Capone says some injuries have been reported but are said to be minor.
"One crash involved approximately 75 cars and multiple tractor-trailers that happened at about 8 a.m. in the eastbound lanes between Willow Grove and the Route 1 exits in Bensalem.
"The other crash happened closer to the Route 1 exit and that accident involved approximately 30 cars and included a jack-knifed tractor-trailer.
"One of the station's traffic reporters is quoted as saying it's the worst such accident he has seen in 20 years on the job."
However, ABC Action News reports that "up to 20 vehicles" were involved in the crash.
A local Fox News affiliate quotes police as saying at least four fire companies responded to the accident, and that there was no immediate word on injuries.
The broadcaster says the first crash, believed to have involved a tractor-trailer, occurred around 7:40 a.m. and "then chain reaction after chain reaction occurred afterwards in the same area."
Update at 11:20 a.m. ET. 16 Reported Injured:
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that 16 people were hurt in the multi-vehicle accidents:
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"Abington Hospital reported 16 injuries, and reports indicate that at least 10 cars and five tractor trailers were involved in the largest crashes that occurred at about 8:35 a.m. at mile marker 350."
"Video taken by news helicopters showed that dozens of vehicles were involved in several separate crashes, including at least one box truck and a jack-knifed tractor trailer."
"Rescue crews were facing a difficult task in responding due to the numbers of crashes and the crush of traffic stuck behind the scene."