Fatal Pile-up In Pennsylvania Was Likely Caused By Weather Conditions

A fatal pile-up occurred due to weather issues in Pennsylvania today.

With the temperature in Pennsylvania dropping, residents were warned by the National Weather Service that travel could be difficult and dangerous. Weather advisory warnings have been in effect in many East Coast states since before the weekend due to significantly cold weather and, in the case of Pennsylvania, snow with high winds causing visibility issues.

It was Saturday morning at roughly 9:30 a.m. EST when a fatal pile-up occurred on I-78 in Lebanon County. At the time the pile-up began, there was almost a complete whiteout. Drivers had very limited visibility. Authorities believe that high winds caused snow to drift onto the interstate and alter the driving conditions.

“You could be driving down the interstate and all of a sudden conditions change because the winds are drifting the snow,” Cory Angell, a Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency spokesperson, told the New Zealand Herald.

There were 50 vehicles, including trailers and large trucks, involved in the pile-up. Despite the fatal outcome of the accident, however, it could have been much worse.

Although 40 people were sent to nearby hospitals and 70 others were stranded at an emergency shelter meant to get them out of the blistering cold, only three people were reported dead.

“We thought it was thunderclouds, and my wife ran up over the hill and saw the accident,” James Steffy, a resident of Pennsylvania living near the site of the pile-up, told WHP-TV.

The identities of those killed in the fatal Pennsylvania pile-up have not been released. However, one student at the scene of the accident admitted that he believed one of the men he tried to help had died on the scene.

Kenny Leger, a sophomore team member for the Pennsylvania State Lehigh Valley basketball team, was traveling in a bus with the rest of his team to a game near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, when the bus crashed into the truck ahead of it. According to Leger, they watched as the truck lost control and the bus driver was unable to avoid the crash. The impact threw him and many of his teammates out of their seats.

No one on the bus with Leger was seriously injured in the pile-up.

The student told the Morning Call that he and a few others got off the bus to see if they could aid anyone else trapped in the pile-up. Together, they were able to rescue a couple of people from bad situations, but then the Pennsylvania student came across a man pinned by his car.

Although Leger tried to lift the car off of the man, it became obvious that it was an impossible task and the student was forced to retreat.

“I wish I could have helped,” Leger tearfully stated. “He was calling out for help but I couldn’t do anything.”

Several departments were on scene to aid victims of the fatal pile-up. Among them were the Red Cross, Military and Veteran Affairs, Human Services and Health, PennDot, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Salvation Army, and Pennsylvania emergency crews.

The victims transported away from the site of the fatal pile-up to safety were brought eight miles away to the Pennsylvania Jonestown Fire Department. There, they were provided with food, water, and warmth.

“We’re keeping them warm, keeping them fed and hopefully going to provide them with some rental cars,” Pennsylvania Trooper Justin Summa told the Morning Call.

The people from the fatal Pennsylvania pile-up were escorted to their safe haven by the afternoon, but the vehicles are still clogging the interstate. Weather conditions have slowed the effort to clean up the area, but authorities believe they will be able to re-open I-78 by approximately midnight, tonight.

[Photo by Cooper Leslie via AP]