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Snow snarls traffic on Interstate 81 in Franklin County

January 11, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A snow squall snarled Interstate 81 traffic Wednesday morning, sending several cars and trucks out of control, one of which crashed into the vehicle of the Franklin Fire Co. chief.

Pennsylvania State Police said approximately six vehicles were involved after drivers lost control on the snow-covered road before dawn near mile marker 19.

Franklin Fire Co. Chief Mark Trace said he responded to a collision involving a tractor-trailer and a passenger vehicle that occurred at 4:28 a.m. near mile marker 21 north of the Scotland, Pa., exit. He left that accident scene and was going south when he encountered vehicles backed up because of icy bridge surfaces on the highway.

Trace had pulled his vehicle into the median when two cars in the northbound lanes spun out of control. One of them struck his vehicle head-on, he said.

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Several more vehicles spun out of control at the same spot as the two that had just crashed, he said. One man was thrown from the rear hatch of a Jeep Cherokee and down a 25-foot embankment, Trace said.

That man was injured and taken from the scene, but Trace did not know the extent of his injuries. He said at least one other person was injured in the pileup.

Trace described himself as "a little stiff and sore" from the accident, but otherwise unhurt.

The chief said he saw several other vehicles that had spun out of control along the interstate, but had not been involved in collisions.

The Franklin Fire Co. Web site reported that emergency crews were attempting to help people out of the vehicles when a tractor-trailer "came through the scene at about 55 mph just missing firefighters and a van carrying 10 people."

As a result of the accidents, the interstate was closed for more than three hours in both directions between exits 16 and 20 while the wrecked vehicles were cleared, the fire company Web site stated.

State police said the crashes were being investigated, and details of the drivers and vehicles involved will be released later.

Police reported another accident about a mile and a half north of Exit 21 at 7:12 a.m. Police said a tractor-trailer driven by Mykhaylo Vynnychuk of Easton, Pa., went off the west side of the road, jackknifed and hit some trees.

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