Three people have been reported dead and 73 were injured in what Bunker Hill, PA Fire Chief Richard Kreitzer called “probably the worst vehicle accident I’ve ever seen in my 31 years as a firefighter.”
64-vehicles were involved in the accident, which was blamed on very low visibility from blowing snow due to high winds. The massive collision occurred on Interstate 78 at mile marker 7.5 in Bethel township and the vehicles included 12 tractor-trailers. The accident received emergency response from ambulances and fire departments in Lebanon, Berks and Lancaster Counties. 4 emergency helicopters were dispatched to the scene.
The 73 injured motorists were taken to area hospitals including Samaritan Hospital, Reading Hospital, Penn State Hershey Medical Center, Lehigh Valley Hospital, St Joseph Medical Center and Schuylkill Regional Medical Center. 57-year-old Alfred Kinnick from Tennessee, 50-year-old Kenneth Lesko of New York and 54-year-old Francisca Pear of New Jersey died at the scene.
One motorist, Jenny Privitera, described the conditions as “on and off sunny and cloudy, and all of a sudden there was just a white-out” and said that in the 20 to 30 minutes it lasted, she could “hear the crash behind us and everyone sliding.”
Interstate 78 was closed in both east and west directions and detours were set up that remained in effect until around 8am on Sunday, February 14th when State Police announced that the highway was cleared and re-opened.
Winter weather brings with it numerous hazards, with black ice being the one we tend to hear about most because it can be so hard to see, especially when traveling at a higher rate of speed. It is important to also remember that heavy snow not only causes slippery driving conditions, but high winds can cause blinding (and sometimes long-lasting) white-outs that can start in a matter of seconds.
This unfortunate accident affected the lives of over 70 people AND their families. When winter road conditions are hazardous, stay off the roads unless you have an emergency or absolute necessity. If you must travel in hazardous conditions, remove any distractions including your cell phone and don’t hurry. Travel at a safe speed below the posted speed limit and increase your chances of getting to your destination safely.
If you’re injured in an accident and don’t know what to do, get medical attention first. If you believe the accident and your injuries could have been prevented and were caused by someone else, call the experienced Maryland Personal Injury Attorneys at Alpert Schreyer, LLC for a free case evaluation. We’ll determine if you have a case and how to get you the compensation you deserve so you can move forward. Call 1-844-MDCRASH or contact us here.