At least 16 people were hurt in a series of collisions on the Pennsylvania Turnpike on Friday morning that involved up to 100 vehicles, including jackknifed tractor trailers.
The first pileup, with 10 cars and five tractor trailers, happened about 8:25 a.m in the eastbound lanes about a mile from the Bensalem Interchange, Turnpike Commission spokesman Bill Capone told NBC 10.
Other crashes quickly followed, with some vehicles becoming trapped underneath the large trucks.
“It was a chain reaction,” Turnpike Commission spokeswoman Renee Colborn told Reuters.
Colborn said authorities do not have an exact count of the number of vehicles involved, but television traffic reporters in helicopters described a scene involving between 50 and 100 cars.
Abington Memorial Hospital was treating a dozen patients or more, including five people who were seriously hurt.
Hundreds of vehicles were stuck in the backup when a 9-mile stretch of the highway was shut down in both directions. Emergency crews were using westbound lanes to reach the crash sites.
A combination of glare from the sun and icy conditions may have contributed to the accidents.
“There must have been some type of quick freeze this morning. The sun was out. We don’t have an exact reason why this accident occurred,” Colborn said.
Pennsylvania State Police told NBC 10 that they believe that speed and cars driving too close for the conditions possibly played a role.
A speed restriction on the turnpike was lifted about 6 a.m. Friday after a nor’easter dumped about a foot of snow in the area.