MYERSVILLE, Md. – A pileup of 35 cars and five tractor-trailers on a snowy Maryland highway killed two people Monday and seriously injured at least a dozen, state police said.
Snow was at least partly to blame for the 12:30 p.m. crash on Interstate 70 near South Mountain in northwestern Maryland, said State Police spokeswoman Elena Russo. An inch-and-a-half of snow quickly fell around the same time as the pileup.
Twelve seriously injured people were taken to Washington County Hospital, Russo said.
Late Monday, troopers said they were looking for a brown minivan, which might have damage on the passenger side, that was traveling west on I-70 shortly before the crash and left the scene.
State police said the minivan may have been involved in the initial crash which led to the pileup.
Jessica Granek, 21, of Columbia, was driving west with three friends to go skiing at Whitetail as visibility was getting worse from the snow, which left a slushy mess on the ground.
"We started to see brake lights, and I saw a blue SUV turn hard and become perpendicular to the road," Granek said. "That made everyone put their brakes on and (they) started sliding. We were fortunate to veer off the right side of road."
She described a scene "out of a movie or TV show" with cars spinning out of control and "kept getting nailed from every side." Cars veered off into a wooded area, and Granek saw a tractor-trailer that "flew by everyone and went into the woods." An oil tanker jumped a guardrail.
Somehow, Granek's car was untouched. When a tanker narrowly missed it, she and her friends ran into the woods away from the road. She called 911, and within minutes, emergency crews were on the scene.
Granek and her friends were among 71 people, including infants and the elderly, who were taken to a Red Cross shelter in Washington County, said Julie Barr-Strasburg, executive director of the county's Red Cross chapter.
Most were waiting to retrieve their vehicles from the pileup, she said. The Red Cross was prepared to keep the shelter open until at least midnight, she said.
"We are in close contact with emergency management and we are hearing that it will be quite some time before the road is open," she said late Monday afternoon.
Most of the people taken to the shelter suffered from "bumps and bruises" and received first aid, she said.