Two people were killed in a horrific accident in Baltimore on the morning of December 17, as a truck explosion led to a 67-car pileup on I-95. The explosion and subsequent crash were both captured on a bystander’s cell phone, and social media users watched the crash play out on video over the weekend.
When a large swath of the East Coast experienced snowfall this weekend, transit authorities began to issue warnings about ice. The Maryland Transportation Authority issued a Tweet over the weekend cautioning drivers who perceived the road to be wet to “THINK ICE!”
The ominous warning proved tragically prescient as snow turned into freezing rain, which led to the creation of a sheet of ice. A truck containing fuels appeared to lose control on the ice and rolled off a raised bridge along I-95 before exploding. The driver of the truck was killed, as was another driver; neither victim has been identified in the media, pending family notification. Twenty-three people were taken to the hospital following the series of crashes at highway speeds that ensued from the accident, with two of those people in critical condition, according to The Baltimore Sun. A separate crash on the same stretch of road led to the death of a third person who left their vehicle after wrecking.
Updates to the Maryland Transportation Authority Police Twitter account on Saturday indicate a nightmarish commute for travelers, replete with a series of shutdowns and detours as officials labored to simultaneously investigate the crash and clear the wreckage.
The fact that the entire accident was captured on a cell phone video is expected to be a significant boon to the investigation, but the incident is still under investigation and the MDTA is still soliciting witness statements on its social media accounts. The Baltimore Sun interviewed a spokesperson from the Maryland Department of the Environment, who stated that the fuels contained within the truck burned in the explosion but would not create a significant environmental fallout.
Newsweek reported the following statement from Baltimore Mayor Catherine Push.
“I want to share my deepest condolences to those affected by this morning’s multi-vehicle crash. Today’s icy road conditions remind us all that it is imperative to exercise extreme caution due to severe weather.”
I-95 runs along the Atlantic Ocean and traverses Florida to Maine. It is the longest north-to-south-running interstate in the United States, and its length and the number of states encompassed by it have lent itself to a long history of harrowing accident along it.
With winter underway, city officials have begun to issue their seasonal advisories calling for people to avoid any unnecessary travel. Last January, the DC-Baltimore region experienced numerous traffic problems when record-breaking snowstorms slammed the area for days, leading to massive road closures with many snowbound in homes.
The arrival of winter conditions on the roadway serves as a reminder that, while snow can interfere with visibility, one of the most insidious and lethal conditions is ice on the roadway. In anticipation of this, Accuweather.com published a meteorologist’s report detailing the litany of dangers present in a black ice situation, notable among them the fact that it is often not spotted until it is too late. The report advises motorists to exercise extreme caution anytime the temperature is near freezing, which occurs at 32 degrees.
In the aftermath of Saturday’s deadly crash, one positive detail was reported. The MDTA re-tweeted praise for the “teamwork” between various local police and fire departments, which was inherent in restoring the interstate to functionality.
[Featured Image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]