Multi-vehicle crashes shut down I-80|
Friday, February 1, 2013
By Terry Whetstone Staff Writer
KYLERTOWN - Traffic came to a standstill yesterday in Cooper Township when two multi-vehicle accidents blocked the eastbound lanes of Interstate 80.
The accidents involved 10 tractor-trailers and eight passenger vehicles, and two people were entrapped in the second accident, which was in the backlog of the first accident.
The accidents were between mile markers 134 and 135, approximately a half-mile from each other.
Frank Little of Woodland said he and his son, Gary, were "the first vehicle not hit," in the backlog accident. They were walking around the accident scene offering any assistance they could.
The accidents were dispatched at about 9 a.m. and I-80 was closed, eastbound, from Woodland to Snow Shoe. Traffic was being re-routed off I-80 at Woodland to state Route 970 to U.S. Route 322. Motorists were to follow U.S. 322 to Interstate 99 in Port Matilda and then follow that to the Milesburg exit of I-80 where they were able to regain access to that route.
Traffic was backed up in Philipsburg for hours as the traffic slowly made its way toward the Port Matilda Mountain.
Once in Philipsburg, traffic could either follow U.S. 322 or SR 350 toward Bald Eagle to access I-99.
While returning from the accident, traffic was backed up from the Sheetz in Philipsburg to Morrisdale, about three miles or so, and that does not include the vehicles being detoured off the interstate at Woodland and causing a back up of traffic on U.S. 322 between Woodland and Philipsburg, which made Philipsburg a very busy, and congested community for late morning and early afternoon.
The state reopened the interstate by 1:30 p.m.
No fatalities were reported in the accidents and five people were transported to Clearfield Hospital.
Jace Edwards, a paramedic with Moshannon Valley Emergency Medical Services, was identified on the scanner as EMS command of the incident and he had a pretty good handle on how many patients there were and who could access them the easiest.
When the call was dispatched it was reported as "multiple vehicles and multiple entrapments."
A total of nine ambulances were dispatched until Edwards had an accurate count of the patients on scene then he staged them where necessary.
Edwards did not wish to speak to the media, but his and other communications over the scanner aided in this report.
MVEMS had three ambulances and a medic intercept unit on scene, Mountain Top Fire Co. of Sandy Ridge had two ambulances, one on scene and the second was staged in the Philipsburg area to cover for MVEMS, Clearfield EMS sent two to the scene and Snow Shoe sent one.
For fire companies Winburne Fire Co. was in charge of the call with mutual aide from Grassflat, Morris Township, Snow Shoe and Pine Glen. Philipsburg Fire Dept. was dispatched but was placed available before arriving on scene.
The American Red Cross was also on scene with a mobile canteen service for emergency personnel and others at the scene of two accidents, offering refreshments, beverages and a place for respite to the first responders and others at the scene.
The Pennsylvania State Police were on scene investigating the accident and getting vehicles that were in the backlog and past the Kylertown exit, backed off the interstate and on their way. Clearfield County Emergency Management also responded to the scene.
Responders said the accident could have been much worse, and those involved are all very lucky.
Iced over roads and whiteout conditions caused by the wind are what is believed to have caused the first accident.