MERCER, Pa. – A tractor-trailer traveling an estimated 55 mph in whiteout conditions jackknifed across Interstate 80 (search) Sunday, setting off a chain-reaction pileup that wrecked up to 80 vehicles.
No deaths or critical injuries were reported, but the late-morning crash blocked the westbound lanes in western Pennsylvania (search) for more than eight hours, state police said.
State police Trooper Ted Hunt said he was attending to disabled vehicles on the side of the highway in blowing snow when he heard a truck quickly pull into the passing lane and jackknife. He said two other rigs skidded sideways, blocking both lanes, and oncoming vehicles began crashing into them.
Hunt said the truck driver who started the crash was cited for driving at an unsafe speed.
"I could hear the cars piling into each other for a good 10 minutes," Hunt, who ran into the woods to avoid the crashing cars and trucks, told The Herald of Sharon for Monday's editions.
Hunt said at one point he saw a man lying in the snow narrowly hurdled by a truck that went airborne and left the road.
The crash site is 60 miles northwest of Pittsburgh (search) and about eight miles from the Ohio border.
About a dozen people were taken to United Community Hospital in Grove City and treated for broken bones, cuts and bruises, said Fran McCleary, nursing supervisor. The hospital admitted one person and sent three others to Pittsburgh hospitals.
Lori Braun, nursing supervisor at Sharon Regional Hospital, said one person was admitted and 11 were treated for minor injuries and released. Another 77 people declined treatment at a triage center set up at a hotel, Braun said.
One of those at the hotel, Bruce Byerly, said he was in a sport utility vehicle on his way to Akron, Ohio, when he struck a tractor-trailer sideways across the road in front of him.
"Once we get stopped, we set there for a minute and you could just hear the crashes piling up behind us," Byerly said.