Snow Squall Leads to 50-Car Pileup on Pennsylvania Highway

50 to 60 cars in pileup that kills three in Pennsylvania. Photos: AP.

At least three people were killed and more than two dozen were injured after a blinding snow squall led to a fiery pileup of at least 50 vehicles, including several tractor-trailers, on a Pennsylvania interstate, the authorities said.

The chain reaction happened around 10:36 am on Interstate 81 in Schuylkill County about 50 miles northeast of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where an early spring burst of wintry weather overwhelmed drivers in the northbound lanes.

Rescuers worked to clear the extensive wreckage from the interstate, the state police confirmed there were three fatalities.

The wreckage was “far from being clear” from the roadway, Trooper David Beohm, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Police, said in an interview with New York Times.

“We searched all vehicles that were not on fire,” he said.

The Associated Press reported at least three people were killed.

The Pennsylvania State Police said two dozen people injured in the crash on Monday were taken to four hospitals in the area. Others who were injured but were able to walk away from the wreckage and were taken from the scene by bus, the State Police said.

“The road conditions when the squall came through contributed to the accident,” said John Blickley, a spokesman for the County Office of Emergency Management.

The Pennsylvania State Police said on Twitter that 50 to 60 vehicles were involved in the pileup and that a fire was burning at the scene.

The pileup snarled traffic for several miles on the highway, making it difficult for emergency responders to reach the wreckage, which the authorities said extended for about a mile. The threat of additional snow squalls further complicated those efforts, prompting the authorities to shut down the highway for several hours.

One driver who was involved in the pileup captured the chain reaction on video as it happened, and the diminished visibility that motorists encountered. The video, which drew widespread attention on social media, showed a convoy of tractor-trailers plowing into one other and skidding on the highway.


In the video, the driver of a sedan narrowly avoided being hit by another car after hitting a highway sign on the shoulder. One person could be heard yelling “go, go, go” as the man recording the footage urged other drivers to “watch out.”

Some drivers who had gotten out of their cars ran toward the woods as more cars and trucks slammed into the idled vehicles on the highway.

The man who captured the chaotic sequence expressed his disbelief as an S.U.V. plowed into his Dodge Charger.

“My car is gone,” he yelled.

It was the second time in just over a month that a snow squall was blamed for a major pileup on Interstate 81 in Schuylkill County.

On Feb. 19, five people were injured in a pileup that involved about 50 vehicles near McAdoo, Pennsylvania about 25 miles northeast of where the pileup on Monday happened, according to local news media outlets. None of those injuries were life-threatening.

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