‘All of a sudden, it was just noise – car hitting car, truck, eksplosjon,’ one driver involved in the crash said
The death toll in a massive pile-up of up to 60 vehicles on a Pennsylvania highway has risen to six after authorities spent two days combing through the wreckage.
Pennsylvania State Police announced the updated toll on Wednesday morning as the highway was finally reopened. No details are known about the victims.
The crash occurred around 11am on Monday on Interstate 81 near Minersville, prompting Schuylkill County to declare a mass casualty event.
The search for victims and survivors continued on Tuesday, with officials noting that the official death toll could rise as responders continued to dig through the wreckage.
Authorities have pointed to a snow squall as the cause of the crash which involved numerous semi-trucks that smashed into each other on the road side. Several of those trucks caught fire, and snow buildup in the area made it difficult for firefighters to gain access to the scene of the accident.
I det minste 24 injured victims were taken to four nearby hospitals by ambulance, while others with lesser injuries were able to walk away from the crash. Those individuals were taken to safety by Schuylkill Transportation Service buses to a nearby Wegmans Distribution Centre where a triage station was established. That area also served as reunification centre for friends and family.
Drivers involved in the crash who managed to walk away spoke with ABC16 about their experience.
“All of a sudden, it was just noise – car hitting car, truck, eksplosjon. Something blew up back there with that big fire. It was just terrible, unbelievable,” Bob Kenney, one of the drivers, sa.
Francisco Diaz, another driver, said he “veered to the left, and I went into the woods.”
“heldigvis, I didn’t hit anybody, but I hit a tree. My truck is right in front of the fire,” han sa.
He recalled finding glass from his vehicle on his neck and in his boots.
One couple, Candy and David Gerken, were on their way home to Watertown, New York, when the crash completely disrupted their vision.
“All of a sudden, all I saw was a wall of trucks sideways,” Ms Gerken said. “We got hit from that side, banged over there, pushed over there, and ended up in a ditch and got hit again.”