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7 taken to hospital after I-70 crash

December 10, 2010|DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com
  • Vehicles are scattered along Interstate 70 east of Hagerstown Friday morning after a fast-moving snowstorm caused slippery condiotions across the Tri-State.
Kevin G. Gilbert | Staff Photographer

WASHINGTON COUNTY — Seven people were taken to Washington County Hospital following a 10-vehicle accident Friday morning in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 on South Mountain.

Maryland State Trooper 1st Class Dave Matthews said at the scene that he believed an unexpected snowstorm caused the accident, which happened at about 11:15 a.m.

“I’m sure these people just locked up their brakes and ran into each other,” Matthews said.

He said he didn’t know the names of the people involved in the accident or the severity of their injuries, but a majority of those taken to the hospital were children.

“It was just to make sure everything was OK,” said Matthews, who added six other people were taken to the Red Cross offices in Hagerstown to receive aid.

Matthews said no one would be cited because the accident was caused by the weather.

The accident occurred on the west side of South Mountain on a downhill section of the roadway. The interstate was covered with ice. Many of the vehicles that were involved in the accident slid off the road into ditches. A windshield and debris from the vehicles covered the ground.

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Paramedic Scott Rudow said he and his partner were driving an ambulance from Owings Mills to Hagerstown when the accident occurred. Even though the ambulance went into a ditch, the two paramedics grabbed their gear and started helping the injured.

Rudow said a man in a Ford Flex had the worst injuries so they helped him first.

“The guy in the Ford had a severe back injury. His legs were pinned under the steering wheel,” Rudow said. “We did what we could. No one could get to us for an hour and a half. I guess they were lucky we were here.”

Hagerstown resident Tom Werts said he was slowing his dump truck as he was driving down the mountain when he noticed vehicles in front of him “start spinning and running into each other.”

“I tried to stop but I couldn’t,” he said. “I had to put it in the ditch.”

Traffic in the westbound lanes of Interstate 70 came to a halt for more than two hours. A Maryland State Police dispatcher said the roadway wasn’t reopened until about 1:30 p.m.

Ray Maier said he and his co-driver make a round trip every day in their tractor-trailer from Illinois to Maryland. He said he wondered why the roads in other states were pre-treated for snow and ice, while the roads in Maryland were not.

“I’m from south Georgia, and I have more sense than this,” said Maier, who was able to stop his truck just short of the accident. “This truck never stops — at least not until today.”

Weather forecasts predicted about a 20 percent chance of snow flurries, not the kind of forecast that sends crews out to pretreat roads, Maryland State Highway Administration spokesman Charlie Gischlar said.

“From a meteorological standpoint, yes, it was unexpected,” Gischlar said.

— Staff Writer Don Aines contributed to this story.

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