Peoria Public Radio Staff
Fri February 14, 2014
Dozens Hurt In Massive Pileup On Pennsylvania Turnpike
Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 3:25 pm
This post was updated at 4:20 p.m. ET.
A chain reaction of crashes involving dozens of cars and tractor-trailers has left at least 30 people hurt and forced the closure of the eastbound lane on the Pennsylvania Turnpike near the town of Bensalem, local news reports.
The lane is now reopened after being closed for much of the day.
Some 100 vehicles were reportedly involved in multiple accidents stemming from an initial 14 or 15-vehicle collision in southern Bucks County at about 8:25 a.m. ET.
"About 20 more sets of wrecks happened over a miles-long stretch of the turnpike, said Pat Ponticelli, Bensalem Township's deputy director of public safety, each apparently happening as traffic slowed for the crashes ahead."
NBC Philadelphia says:
"Multiple accidents left dozens of vehicles wrecked, nearly two dozen motorists injured and hundreds of people stranded along a 5-mile stretch of toll road between the Willow Grove and Bensalem/U.S. 1 exits in the Feasterville-Trevose area of Bucks and Montgomery Counties."
Bill Capone, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, tells CNN that 30 people were taken to area hospitals, but said details about the extent of injuries was not immediately known.
"My heart was just like...oh my God. There's no words to express it," NBC quoted Maria Schoeler, who was stuck directly behind a multivehicle wreck, as saying. "It's pretty crazy. It's something you don't expect with this many vehicles. It's pretty treacherous."
NBC says a second pileup farther east involved about 20 vehicles, including a FedEx truck, cars and SUVs.
It says 21 people were hurt and that 16 of them were sent to a local hospital. It said five of them were trauma cases, but that there injuries were not thought to be life-threatening.
While the cause was not immediately clear, 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:
"The shutdown area encompasses about eight miles and helicopter views of the area show several accidents, including a jack-knifed tractor trailer, and other spin out accidents among the wreckage. Hundreds of cars are stuck in the backup and re-opening the highway is expcted to take hours."
CBSPhilly says one of its traffic reporters calls it the worst such accident he has seen in 20 years on the job.
"It looked like multiple cars couldn't stop," said SkyForce10's Jeremy Haas.
A local Fox News affiliate quotes police as saying at least four fire companies responded to the accident.
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."
The Philadelphia Inquirer says "rescue crews were facing a difficult task in responding due to the numbers of crashes and the crush of traffic stuck behind the scene."