We have terrible news today out of Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. An early spring snow squall with fog caused white-out conditions along a stretch of Interstate 81, leading to an absolutely horrific pile-up involving over 50 vehicles. Numerous people are reported injured. Tragically, at least three people lost their lives.
The crash occurred at approximately 10:30 a.m. local time in the northbound lanes of I-81. Dramatic video at the top of this article captures the event as it happened; we do offer a word of warning as it might be disturbing to some.
Numerous vehicles, from cars to semi-trucks, are seen emerging from the fog and snow just seconds before crashing. The video shows a skidding SUV narrowly missing a person standing next to a vehicle on the shoulder. Later, it shows burning vehicles towards the front of the scene, including at least one semi-truck. It's unclear how long the collisions continued; the video ends with the person heading off to help other motorists.
A second video from WFMZ-TV (below) shows the stretch of highway as emergency responders attempt to douse fires and clear the area.
The news outlet reports that 24 people were taken to local hospitals for injuries. Three people are confirmed dead, but it's possible the number could rise as authorities continue searching vehicles and clearing the scene. As of the evening hours on March 28, the northbound stretch of I-81 – located approximately 100 miles northwest of Philadelphia – was still closed.
Sudden snow squalls are among the most terrifying things to experience on a highway. Visibility can drop to near zero in an instant, and the sudden burst of snow often creates slippery conditions for drivers. It's difficult to know how to respond in such situations; ABC 27 cites the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation as advising motorists to not suddenly hit the brakes or pull off the road. The best advice is to make sure your normal lights and hazard lights are on, don't change lanes, gradually slow down, and take the next available exit.