mostlycloudy
Friday July 3rd, 2015 2:19AM

Trucks, dozens of cars crash on Pa. turnpike

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- At least two pileups involving tractor-trailers and scores of cars blocked one side of an ice-coated Pennsylvania Turnpike outside Philadelphia on Friday, injuring at least 30 people and tying up traffic for miles.

The eastbound crashes were reported just after 8 a.m., in the middle of rush hour and about five hours after a storm that dropped a foot of snow in the area finally moved out.

Speed restrictions put in place during the storm had been lifted at 6 a.m., but rush-hour motorists said the roadway was very slick, calling into question whether it had been adequately treated.

The accidents created an hours-long traffic jam between the Bensalem and Willow Grove exits of the state's primary east-west highway, and motorists turned off their engines to conserve gas.

"It's a pretty calm atmosphere right now," said Chuck Wacker, 53, Plymouth Meeting, who counted about 30 smashed-up vehicles around him. "People are sharing food and water."

He said cars were spun around, gas tanks were cracked open and glass and plastic littered the road.

Ambulances took 30 people from the scene, but none of the injuries are believed to be major, turnpike spokesman Bill Capone said. Abington Memorial Hospital and St. Mary Medical Center received many of the patients, but spokeswomen at the two facilities said none of the injuries was life-threatening.

Officials said it would take time to clear damaged vehicles, including tractor trailers, especially since some could not be driven away. About half of a 5-mile jam had been cleared as of early afternoon, Capone said.

The decision to lift the speed restrictions was based on road conditions at the time, he said.

"Based on reports from the road crews, the roads were such that we could restore it back to normal posted speeds," he said. "If somebody had said there was still a reason to keep it in place, we would've kept it in place."

Whether conditions changed after that decision would be part of the state police investigation, Capone said.

He said he was told the road had been treated but couldn't say when.

Several motorists interviewed by The Associated Press described an icy, slippery highway.

"I expected this road to be clear," said Dan Santillo, 65, of Jeffersonville, who was stuck about a mile back. "A major thoroughfare like this? It actually has pieces of ice that were never removed or salted. It just didn't make sense."

Santillo said he was driving 40 to 45 mph, but other motorists were flying by him at 65 or 70.

"I was thinking, what the hell are people doing? It's icy. They're crazy," he said. "People have this false sense of security. I was shocked. Don't they see the road, see what I'm seeing?"

David Hill, 27, said he wasn't surprised there was an accident.

"I got on the turnpike and it was nothing but ice," he said. "I was very surprised at the condition of it. Normally the turnpike is one of the first roads that's cleared, but today I was driving on solid ice."

Hill, who works for a wealth management company, was about a mile back and had turned his car off to save gas. Given the nearest exit was about 2 1/2 miles away, he anticipated being there for hours.

"There's no possible way," he said. "I'm stuck."

When a motorist two cars ahead of Wacker banged into a guardrail, he applied his brakes, and his Honda Ridgeline fishtailed but came to rest within inches of the motorist in front of him.

"There were bare spots and frozen spots. If you hit the brakes and were on that ice, you either slid into the guardrail or into the guy in front of you or the guy next to you," he said.

Motorists trapped in the traffic jam seemed mostly to be taking their predicament in stride, despite having already been stuck for several hours. Santillo, who had picked up a dozen heart-shaped doughnuts to take to work, passed them out to fellow motorists instead.

Volunteers from The American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania were headed to the scene to bring food, water and blankets to stranded motorists.
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 6 months ago )
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 6 months ago )
Storm brings snow, cold to West for New Year's
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
5:19PM ( 6 months ago )
U.S. News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 6 months ago )
Hall County conviction, sentencing to be reviewed by SCOGA
The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a Hall County man when they reconvene in January.
2:37PM ( 6 months ago )
Local/State News
Federal report: Polar bears in peril due to global warming
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Polar bears are at risk of dying off if humans don't reverse the trend of global warming, a blunt U.S. government report filed Thursday said."The single most important step fo...
8:25PM ( 5 hours ago )
The Latest on train derailment: 5,000 evacuated in Tennessee
MARYVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — 6 p.m.An official in eastern Tennessee says smoke has stopped rising from the site where a CSX train car derailed and caught fire, forcing the evacuation of thousands of reside...
6:05PM ( 8 hours ago )
Obama draws sharp contrasts with 'mean' Republicans
LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) — Wading into presidential politics, President Barack Obama on Thursday promoted his brand of middle-class economics by drawing sharp contrasts with "mean" Republicans in a state...
5:36PM ( 8 hours ago )
Jim Webb, Iraq war critic in Senate, running for president
WASHINGTON (AP) — Jim Webb, a decorated Vietnam veteran and accomplished novelist who became a fierce critic of the Iraq war in the Senate, announced Thursday that he's challenging Hillary Rodham Clin...
5:08PM ( 9 hours ago )
Top Republican doubts Senate will confirm ambassador to Cuba
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that his chamber is unlikely to approve an American ambassador to Cuba, dishing out a quick rebuff to President Barack Obama and...
4:28PM ( 9 hours ago )