An 18-vehicle pileup in whiteout conditions Wednesday afternoon killed two people in western Pennsylvania and left dozens injured, authorities said.
Both victims died after leaving their vehicles amid the chain-reaction crash on Interstate 80. One was struck and the other collapsed and died of internal injuries while looking for his children, who had been ejected, a coroner said. The children were found unharmed.
Nine trucks, several of them tractor-trailers, and nine cars were involved in the crash, which occurred at 1:40 p.m. in the highway’s westbound lanes in Clarion Township, state police said.
“It was carnage,” Clarion County Coroner Terry Shaffer said. “(There was) metal everywhere. There were busted axels, trucks totaled. One tanker trunk didn’t have any wheels on it.”
“The lady whose husband died said they just kept getting hit and banged around,” he said.
The husband, 35-year-old Timothy Floravit of Beaver Falls, apparently died of internal injuries from hitting the steering wheel, Shaffer said.
The other person killed was fatally struck after leaving a vehicle, Trooper Jamie Levier said. That person’s name has not been released.
The pileup occurred during a snow squall that left drivers with little visibility. At least one of the trucks was carrying hazardous material, but no leaks were found, a county official said.
None of the other injuries were thought to be life-threatening, although three of the approximately 20 people taken to Clarion Hospital were sent on to Pittsburgh hospitals with more serious injuries. The others were being treated for everything from bumps to broken bones, spokeswoman Julie Kunselman said.
The National Weather Service was issuing warnings about lake effect snow squalls in the area Wednesday afternoon. The squalls were drifting southwest from Lake Erie.
A third person in Clarion County crashed his car and died at about the same time, but his death was attributed to a heart attack, Shaffer said.