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Icy conditions lead to 50-vehicle pile-up in Clearfield Co.

Reported By: Deven Clarke
Written By: Marc Stempka

BRADFORD TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- Dozens of cars and trucks slammed into each other after icy conditions made travel dangerous in Clearfield County, resulting in a large chain-reaction crash that closed a major roadway for hours and sent more than a dozen people to area hospitals.

At least 50 vehicles, many of them tractor-trailers, were involved in the crash along Interstate 80 westbound between the Kylertown and Woodland exits Wednesday morning. The area is just east of Clearfield.

RAW VIDEO: The crash scene from WPXI-TV's chopper

One of the drivers involved in the crash, Kenneth Pattee, said the conditions changed so quickly that it was difficult for anyone to come to a stop, and a tractor-trailer following him hit the SUV he was driving.

"As soon as he hit his brakes by me, he caught the back driver's corner of the Explorer," Pattee said. "It moved to the right and it caught the driver's side of the Explorer and went into the ditch."

Pattee and two others in his vehicle were not injured, he said.

The vehicles colliding into each other, one by one, some on the highway, others onto the side of the road, repeated over a several mile stretch in the area of mile marker 128.

State police at Clearfield said the first reports of accidents came in at about 6 a.m., at the time freezing rain was moving through the area.

"It started to rain and quickly turned to ice," Trooper Matthew Reifer said. "The roadway became a solid sheet of ice and once [motorists] started slowing down because of ice, they started to jackknife."

A van caught fire in the pileup and at least one driver had to be extricated from his tractor-trailer after being pinned between his dashboard and the back of another tractor-trailer, officials said.

Sixteen people were transported to Clearfield Hospital for treatment of moderate to minor injuries, hospital officials said. One person was transported to another area hospital with serious injuries.

One lane of Interstate 80 reopened at about 6 p.m. Wednesday. The highway was expected to fully open by 10 p.m.

At about the same time Wednesday morning, several accidents were reported in the eastbound lanes of I-80 in the same area. Crews did close the eastbound lanes, but reopened them by 11 a.m.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times