CLARION, Pa. (AP) — Two people died and nearly two dozen were injured in an 18-vehicle crash during a snow squall in western Pennsylvania that left drivers with little visibility.
Authorities said the chain reaction pileup happened Wednesday afternoon in whiteout conditions on Interstate 80 in Clarion Township. Nine trucks, several of them tractor-trailers, and nine cars were involved in the crash in the highway’s westbound lanes, state police said. At least one of the trucks was carrying hazardous material, but no leaks were found, a county official said.
“It was carnage,” Clarion County Coroner Terry Shaffer said. “(There was) metal everywhere. There were bustled axels, trucks totaled. One tanker trunk didn’t have any wheels on it.” Two people died after leaving their vehicles. One was struck and the other collapsed and died of internal injuries while looking for his children, who had been ejected, Shaffer said. The children were found unharmed.
The coroner said the wife of one victim said “they just kept getting hit and banged around.” Her husband, 35-year-old Timothy Floravit of Beaver Falls, apparently died of internal injuries from hitting the steering wheel, said Shaffer.
The other person was struck and fatally injured after leaving a vehicle, Trooper Jamie Levier said. That person’s name has not been released. 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 had issued warnings about lake effect snow squalls in the area Wednesday afternoon. The squalls drifted 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.