At least 17 people were rushed to Philadelphia-area hospitals Friday morning after up to 100 cars crashed on a particularly icy stretch of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The first chain of crashes happened just before 8:30 a.m. in the eastbound lanes near Bensalem, Pa., about 20 miles north of Philadelphia, and involved five tractor-trailers and 10 cars, Turnpike Commission spokesman Bill Capone told NBC Philadelphia.
Within minutes of that crash came another pileup, as drivers attempted to slam on their brakes. Witnesses reported a subsequent pileup claimed up to 75 vehicles, with a jackknifed 18-wheeler blocking the highway and multiple cars wedged underneath it. A moving van was sent skidding on its side. Of the 17 people rushed to the hospital, five were said to have serious injuries. Two hours after the crash, the highway was closed to traffic, as local news outlets reported the highway backup spanned for five miles.
Pennsylvania police ordered speed restrictions on the toll road overnight as a winter storm slammed the area with a foot of snow, but the 45 mph speed limit expired at 6 a.m. Still, drivers reported that ice was visible on the roadway. The Pennsylvania Turnpike is a heavily traveled route that spans the state and runs through the populous suburbs of northern Philadelphia. Late last year, a major pileup 50 miles west on the same highway killed a driver.