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Four taken to hospital after seven-vehicle chain-reaction crash on I-70

July 25, 2013|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com
  • Police and rescue personnel work the scene of seven-vehicle incident Thursday on the Interstate 70 bridge over Interstate 81.
By Kevin G. Gilbert / Staff Photographer

HALFWAY — A tractor-trailer collided with a van on westbound Interstate 70 at the bridge over Interstate-81 near Halfway before noon Thursday, causing a chain-reaction accident involving seven vehicles that sent four people to the hospital and slowed traffic for hours.

The accident occurred as traffic slowed on the interstate and the 18-wheeler tried to stop behind an Odyssey Van pulling a trailer with two motorcycles, said Trooper Dave Thompson of the Maryland State Police.

“When he tried to stop he lost control,” Thompson said. “The trailer hit the van, and then he made contact with the other vehicles.”

He said the tractor-trailer hit a Cavalier, a Tahoe, a Jeep Cherokee and a Highlander. The Jeep Cherokee was pushed into another tractor-trailer.

“Basically, it was a chain-reaction, and it pingponged around,” Thompson said.

Shortly after the crash, the first tractor-trailer rested against the Highlander on the guardrail of the bridge on the right side; the Tahoe and the Jeep sat against the guardrail on the left side; and the tractor-trailer hit by the Jeep stood in the right shoulder lane in front all four vehicles.

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Behind those vehicles, the Cavalier was facing eastbound in the westbound lane, with damage to its rear end. The Odyssey was at a distance behind that, with damage to its rear, and one of the motorcycles on its side and partially crushed.

William Ball, chief of the Williamsport Fire and EMS Service, said that three people were pulled out of the Jeep Cherokee, including a woman and two “pediatrics.” He said he did not know how young the children were.

Four people, including the three pulled out of the Jeep, were taken to Meritus Medical Center near Hagerstown with nonlife-threatening injuries, Ball said.

The two tractor-trailers and the Tahoe had only drivers; the Highlander had two occupants; the Cherokee three; the Cavalier two; and the Odyssey three, according to Thompson.

Rhonda Maine of Newport News, Va., who was driving the Odyssey carrying the two motorcycles, said she, her husband, Rob, and daughter, Rachel, were on their way to a funeral in Michigan when the accident occurred.

She said that trailer carrying the motorcycles might have saved them.

“I was just thankful because the truck driver did not hit me,” she said. “The trailer took the brunt of it.”
Maine, 47, described what happened as “surreal.”

“I really didn’t even know it was happening,” she said. “I was just like, ‘We’re not going to be making it to Michigan anytime soon.’”

Police responded to the accident at around 11:40 a.m. Thursday and shut down the bridge westbound.
Ball said the responders had to clean up a 75-gallon diesel fuel spill from the two tractor-trailers.

The road was reopened by 2:45 p.m., according to the Maryland Department of Transportation’s traffic incident website at http://chart.state.md.us.

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