A section of a Pennsylvania interstate highway remained closed Tuesday, a day after at least three people were killed and more than a dozen others were injured when tractor-trailers and other cars lost control and collided during a snowstorm.
According to officials, I-81 north remained blocked Tuesday afternoon following a crash Monday morning that involved between 40 and 60 automobiles and occurred due to poor visibility. No update on the number of fatalities is likely before Wednesday, according to state police.
Drivers and passengers lined the icy road and jumped out of the way as the cascade of collisions happened on Monday on Interstate 81, as caught in footage uploaded on social media. After the collision, the highway’s north and southbound lanes were closed for several hours, but the southbound side reopened approximately 6:30 p.m. Monday. When the northbound side would reopen was unknown.
Authorities stated a large number of automobiles remained on the road in the northbound lanes early Tuesday. Authorities said they needed to look through each vehicle to make sure there were no human remains, since some were mostly incinerated and others melted into the roadway.
The Pennsylvania State Police’s Trooper David Beohm said Tuesday afternoon that once the roadway was cleared, the state transportation agency would have to inspect it to see if any road repairs were required before traffic could resume.
Three of the tractor-trailers involved, he added, had lost their tractor parts, and one had no tires because they had been destroyed by the fire. “Some issues as to how you’re going to move that material,” he remarked. “Not that the tow people aren’t up to the task,” he added, “but it takes time.”
PennDOT employees will need to remove a layer of the road surface owing to spilled liquids like as petrol and oil from the fallen cars once the bigger vehicles have been removed and the road has been cleared of debris, according to PennDOT spokesperson Ronald Young.
“While the bulk of the liquids have been or will be remediated,” Young explained, “there may still be minor quantities on the road surface or even in the top layer of the asphalt.” He said they anticipated to reopen the route late Tuesday night.
The number of automobiles involved was estimated to be between 40 and 60 by the emergency management agency and state police, and Trooper David Boehm said an exact figure would not be known for many days.
The Schuylkill County coroner, Dr. David J. Moylan, has verified three deaths, with the number likely to climb. 24 people were sent to four hospitals, according to a Pennsylvania State Police incident report. According to the article, people who were able to exit their vehicles and walk were transported by bus to a Wegmans Distribution Center and then to the Good Will Fire Company in Minersville, which served as a reunion center.
In one video, an out-of-control tractor-trailer smashed into a large dump truck, nearly turning it 180 degrees, another large truck caught fire and spewed black smoke into the air, and an SUV collided with a passenger car, sending it spinning narrowly past a person standing on the shoulder in the snow and fog.