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Snow Squall Leads to Major Car Crash on Interstate 81

The morning of Monday, March 28 started out as a beautiful sky clear sunny spring day for tractor-trailer driver John Hrinda. He had just dropped off his load on one of the many industrial parks along Pennsylvania’s Interstate 81. He was heading home northbound to Montgomery County, New York.

However, not far after he started the return trip, the skies drew dark. All off a sudden, at approximately 10:30 a.m., a windswept snow squall turned the highway into a sea of whiteness and madness. Visibility was reduced to zero. The driver alertly reduced his sped from 60 to 30 miles per hour.

Hrinda turned on his dashcam to document his experience and later posted it on YouTube and other media outlets. Once he hit the 116-mile marker near the Minersville exit in Schuylkill County, he saw a slew of passenger and commercial vehicles that had swerved off to the side of the road. Hrinda slowed down and eventually found a pathway out of the pileup. At times, he had to hug the road’s narrow shoulders just to get through and keep from hitting something.

The people that followed behind Hrinda were not so lucky. When the snow squall cleared, the road was a mess of crashed and burned-out vehicles. Another YouTube video posted by a pedestrian documents a score of cars, SUVs and semis unable to slow down in time. They skidded and crashed into the pile of vehicles in front of them, sounding like shotgun blasts. Tractor-trailers carrying fuel were set ablaze with one melting right into the roadway.

In all, around 80 vehicles were involved in the pileup. It took about 30 hours for Pennsylvania State Police to account for all the victims and clear all the wreckage and repatch the road. The six motorists that were killed were burn victims. There were 24 people injured in total.

A Wegmans warehouse facility at the nearby High Ridge Industrial Park plus the Minersville Good Will Fire Company were used as processing centers to check out which of the stranded motorists needed medical attention. The most serious cases were transported to local hospitals in Schuylkill County or life flighted by helicopter to the trauma center of the Geisinger Medical Center in Danville. The Red Cross and the United Way put up stranded motorists at local hotels.

State troopers and Penn DOT have advised motorists that if they find themselves in a similar situation, to drive off to the side of the road and park while keeping your seat belt on. You are also advised to keep a lane open for oncoming traffic and emergency vehicles. But as various YouTube videos have shown, cars parked on the side of a highway can be hit by upcoming vehicles driven by people who have no vision and cause loss of life and car damage if they can’t slowdown and lose control.

If sheltering in place is not possible, one state trooper also has this word of advice.

"Get out of your car and run, like up into the woods. Run down over the embankment, run to the other side. There’s intervening space between the four lanes, run as far as you can from this. And I can tell you, you’re not going to do well as a car is spinning out of control and comes at you 80 miles an hour and hits you. Things aren’t going to be good for you,” Pennsylvania State Police Trooper David Boehm said to local media outlets.

The injuries that these drivers and passengers sustained can affect them for the rest of their lives. This could make it very difficult for these people to work so they can provide for themselves and their families.

Car Crashes Usually Result in Injuries Such as:
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) ...
  • Spinal cord injuries and paralysis (quadriplegia/tetraplegia and paraplegia) ...
  • Back Injuries. ...
  • Burns. ...
  • Internal injuries. ...
  • Fractures and broken bones. ...
  • Disfiguring facial injuries and scars. ...
  • Limb loss and amputation.

It is important to call 911 if you are involved in any type of accident. It is also important to avoid areas where traffic has been slowed down or stopped because of multiple vehicle accidents if possible. Always drive the speed limit and slow down if you anticipate adverse conditions on the roadway.

If somebody you know is involved in such an incident, or any type of accident, it's important to not rely solely on insurance companies alone to sort things out. It might be next to impossible for them to assign blame or find fault as to how and why you were injured.

If you or somebody you know find yourself injured or the loss of your vehicle in such a situation, contact your insurance company to report the loss. Then contact the offices of O’Connor Law. Our attorneys and staff are on call and ready to help you receive the compensation you need. Please call 800-518-4LAW (4529) to talk to one of our auto accident attorneys.

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