Skip Navigation

Update: 6 people confirmed dead from Pennsylvania pileup

The crash Monday was captured in videos posted on social media that showed drivers and passengers lining the snowy road and jumping out of the way as the cascade of crashes unfolded.

  • The Associated Press
The smoky aftermath of a massive pile-up during a snow squall March 28, 2022, on Interstate 81 North in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.

Mike Nester / lehighvalleylive.com

The smoky aftermath of a massive pile-up during a snow squall March 28, 2022, on Interstate 81 North in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.

(Pottsville) — A deadly pileup involving 80 vehicles on a Pennsylvania interstate during a snow squall killed six people, state police said Wednesday.

“There were 6 fatalities involved in this crash. Identities of the victims will be released once death notifications have been made to their families,” state police in Frackville said.

Police also said the crash during “an active snow squall” Monday around 10:30 a.m. and involved 39 commercial vehicles and 41 passenger vehicles, for a total of 80, which is greater than earlier estimates of 40 to 60 vehicles.

Officials said the stretch of 1-81 opened at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday after crews finished clearing the crash site, state police tweeted. The southbound side had reopened hours after Monday’s multivehicle wreck.

The northbound lanes between Exit 107: US 209 and Exit 119: Highridge Park Road reopened just after midnight after crews finished clearing the crash site, state police tweeted. The southbound side had reopened hours after Monday’s multivehicle wreck.

The crash took place in poor visibility and involved between 40 and 60 vehicles, authorities said. It was captured in videos posted on social media that showed drivers and passengers lining the snowy road and jumping out of the way as the cascade of crashes unfolded.

In one video, an out of control tractor-trailer smashed into a large dump truck turning it nearly 180 degrees, another large truck caught fire and spewed black smoke into the air, and an SUV struck a passenger car sending it spinning narrowly past a person standing on the shoulder in snow and fog.

Some vehicles were mostly burned and others melted onto the highway. Authorities said they needed to go through each vehicle to make sure there were no human remains.

State police have not updated the number of fatalities.

Dr. David J. Moylan, the Schuylkill County coroner, has said three fatalities have been confirmed and that number could rise. A Pennsylvania State Police incident report noted 24 people were taken to four hospitals.

 

*An earlier version of this story appears below*

(Pottsville) — A stretch of Interstate 81 in Schuylkill County remained shuttered Tuesday, a day after at least five people were killed and more than a dozen others injured when tractor-trailers and other vehicles lost control and slammed into each other during a snow squall.

Interstate 81 north remained closed Tuesday afternoon between Exit 107: US 209 and Exit 119: Highridge Park Road following the wreck Monday morning amid poor visibility that involved between 40 and 60 vehicles, authorities said. State police said no update on the number of fatalities was expected before Wednesday. PennDOT says the roadway could reopen Wednesday morning.

The crash Monday on Interstate 81 was captured in videos posted on social media that showed drivers and passengers lining the snowy road and jumping out of the way as the cascade of crashes unfolded. The north and southbound lanes of the highway were closed for several hours after the accident, but the southbound side reopened around 6:30 p.m. Monday. It was not known when the northbound side would reopen.

Numerous vehicles remained on the roadway in the northbound lanes early Tuesday, authorities said. Some vehicles were mostly burned and others melted onto the highway, and authorities said they needed to go through each vehicle to make sure there are no human remains.

Trooper David Beohm of the Pennsylvania State Police said Tuesday afternoon that after the highway was cleared, the state transportation department would have to check the highway to determine whether road repairs would be needed before traffic could be allowed to resume.

Interstate 81 North near the Minersville exit, Foster Twp., Pa., was the scene of a multi-vehicle crash on Monday, March 28, 2022.

David McKeown / Republican-Herald via AP

Interstate 81 North near the Minersville exit, Foster Twp., Pa., was the scene of a multi-vehicle crash on Monday, March 28, 2022.

He said three of the tractor-trailers involved no longer had their tractor portions and one didn’t have tires because they were consumed in the fire. That poses, he said, “some challenges as to how you’re going to move that stuff — not that the tow guys aren’t up to to the task, but it takes time.”

After the larger vehicles are removed and the road is cleared of debris, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation crews will need to remove a layer of the road surface due to spilled liquids such as fuel and oil from the crashed vehicles, PennDOT spokesperson Ronald Young said Tuesday afternoon.

“While the majority of the liquids have or will be remediated, there may still be small amounts on the road surface or even in the top layer of the asphalt,” Young said. Officials hoped the road could be reopened late Tuesday night, he said.

Estimates of the number of vehicles involved from the emergency management agency and state police ranged between 40 and 60, and Trooper David Boehm said an exact total may not be known for a number of days.

Dr. David J. Moylan, the Schuylkill County coroner, has said three fatalities have been confirmed and that number could rise. A Pennsylvania State Police incident report noted 24 people were taken to four hospitals. People who could get out of their vehicles and walk were taken by buses to a Wegmans Distribution Center and then to Good Will Fire Company in Minersville serving as a reunification center, according to the report.

In one video, an out of control tractor-trailer smashed into a large dump truck turning it nearly 180 degrees, another large truck caught fire and spewed black smoke into the air, and an SUV struck a passenger car sending it spinning narrowly past a person standing on the shoulder in snow and fog.

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »

Up Next
Regional & State News

Pennsylvania payrolls up, jobless rate down in February