More than 50 cars were involved in a pile-up at around 9:30 a.m. this morning in Bethel Township. The pile-up spanned over both east and west bound lanes of I-78 near the county line between Berks and Lebanon County.
According to Philly.com, officials are saying that a snow squall and poor visibility may have largely been the reason for the deadly 50 car pile-up. Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) spokewoman, Cory Angell, said the following of the 50 car pile-up.
“There were multiple fatalities, but we don’t know how many,” said Cory Angell, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.
Temperatures of 15 degrees, with light snow, were reported of the area before the pileup of more than 50 cars by the National Weather Service.
Among those involved in the 50 car pile-up was the Penn State Lehigh Valley men’s basketball team. The team was on its way to a game in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, when the pile of more than 50 cars occurred.
Philly.com reports that team wrote that everyone was okay on the Penn State Website. However, the team is still being transported to the hospital as a precaution.
Their site also claims that their chartered bus was hit by a tractor-trailer near Frystown, in Lebanon County. Most vehicles involved in the 50 car pile-up smashed into each other at angles. Other cars slid into tractor-trailers with one tractor-trailer turned on its side.
Unfortunately, not everyone was as lucky as the Penn State Lehigh Valley basketball team as 48 people were transported to seven different hospitals in central Pennsylvania, according to Angell.
Officials are also saying that over 70 people were transported to shelters and the death toll so far potentially includes three people.
State Trooper David LeBron of the Jonestown State Police Barracks said the following.
“There were multiple injuries,” adding that that a final confirmation of the fatalities from the 50 car pile-up cannot be stated at the moment. “None of the fatalities are confirmed yet. It’s still being investigated. We’re hoping for the best. We don’t know.”
Seven patients from the accident were taken to Penn State Hershey Medical Center, some having to be airlifted there. and some arrived in helicopters, said.
Hershey spokeswoman Megan Manlove said that at least two patients had critical injuries. The two victims of the 50 car pile-up were given immediate attention however, Manlove said, “I can’t say whether they needed surgery.”
Others suffered severe injuries like broken arms for instance. Manlove added that she wasn’t aware of any fatalities at the Hershey Medical Center.
WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital in Lebanon treated six patients from the 50 car accident on I-78. Their spokeswoman, Cindy Stauffer said, “They came by ambulance and they are all in good condition.”
Everyone else who was involved in the 50 car pile-up were being kept warm in the back of tractor-trailers until rescue buses arrived for them, Philly.com reported.
Harrisburg State Police among other non local police departments helped in the recovery effort also. This is because the mid county area — where the 50 car pile-up took place — has no local police departments, according to officer LeBron.
LeBron also claimed that the conditions of the stretch I-78 were just fine earlier when he drove on it, further attributing the weather as the reason for the 50 car pile-up rather than icy conditions on the road itself.
“Weather likely played a role. There was a snow squall that moved through, and visibility could have been a factor.”
Some other officials who pitched in for the rescue effort are Red Cross workers, who assisted at the shelter set up, and The State Department of Military and Veteran Affairs, and Department of Human Services and Health were on call, Angell said.
[Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images]