Police: US highway crash sent 73 to hospital

2016-02-15 08:59
US police. (Jeff Roberson, AP)

US police. (Jeff Roberson, AP)

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Washington - More than 70 people were treated following a huge pileup on a central Pennsylvania interstate highway that killed three people, authorities said on Sunday.

Trooper Justin Summa of the state police barracks in Lebanon County said Saturday's crash on Interstate 78 during a snow squall involved 64 vehicles, including a dozen commercial vehicles such as tractor-trailers and box trucks. There were also "numerous secondary crashes" behind that as traffic backed up, he said.

Kenneth J Lesko, aged 50, of Bethpage, New York; Francisca V Pear, aged 54, of Bridgewater, New Jersey; and Alfred Dean Kinnick, aged 57, of Limestone, Tennessee, were all pronounced dead at the scene of Saturday morning's crash on Interstate aged 78, state police in Lebanon County said on Sunday.

The crash shortly before 09:30 on Saturday occurred in what drivers reported as whiteout conditions, with very low visibility and a lot of drifting snow, Summa said.

"People were saying they couldn't see past the front bumpers of their cars," Summa said Sunday.

The major crash along one stretch of I-78 in Bethel Township involved 64 vehicles, including a dozen commercial vehicles such as tractor-trailers and box trucks, but there were also "numerous secondary crashes" behind that as traffic backed up, Summa said.

A total of 73 people were taken by four medical helicopters and by ambulance for treatment at 11 hospitals. At least one remained in critical condition Sunday, but Penn State Hershey Medical Center said two others taken to the hospital with critical injuries had improved and most of the 13 people brought to the hospital had been discharged.

The interstate highway reopened Sunday morning following the pileup, which left vehicles tangled together across three traffic lanes and into the snow-covered median about 120km northwest of Philadelphia.

Police said more than 70 people were taken to a warming shelter operated by the American Red Cross at a firehouse in the area. The center closed on Saturday night after stranded motorists were given an opportunity to get rental vehicles or hotels.

Among those caught in the pile up was the Penn State-Lehigh Valley men's basketball team. They were heading to a game in New Kensington when their chartered bus was hit by a tractor-trailer. The school reported no serious injuries.

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