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Drivers recount deadly multi-vehicle pileup in Schuylkill County

The deadly pile-up closed the northbound lanes of Interstate 81 near mile marker 116, according to PennDOT.

SCHUYLKILL COUNTY, Pa. — A deadly crash involving multiple vehicles closed part of a highway Monday morning in Schuylkill County.

The crash closed the northbound lanes of Interstate 81 between the Route 901 exit (116) and the Highridge Park Road exit (119), according to PennDOT.

Video from the scene shows snowy conditions and chain-reaction crashes.

According to state police, there were at least 50 vehicles involved in the chain-reaction crash.

The Schuylkill County coroner is on scene at this crash, and many more people were hurt. The Associated Press reports at least three people have died.

Firefighters were still putting out multiple vehicle fires on Monday afternoon.

Drivers tell Newswatch 16 it all happened very suddenly. People described whiteout conditions that seemed to come out of nowhere. Drivers heard explosions and felt their vehicles getting hit. Buses picked up stranded travelers and took them to a nearby Wegman's distribution center as well as a fire company.

Drivers involved in this massive pile-up on Interstate 81 near Minersville describe a chaotic scene.

"All of a sudden, it was just noise – car hitting car, truck, explosion. Something blew up back there with that big fire. It was just terrible, unbelievable," said Bob Kenney.

"I just veered to the left, and I went in the woods. Luckily, I didn't hit anybody, but I hit a tree. My truck is right in front of the fire," said Francisco Diaz.

Diaz was on his way to Tobyhanna when the whiteout conditions came fast.

"Glass from my door fell on me. I found glass on my neck and in my boots. I have a cut here and one here too," he said.

Candy and David Gerken were driving home to Watertown, New York, when all of a sudden, they could not see a thing.

"All of a sudden, all I saw was a wall of trucks sideways," Candy said. "We got hit from that side, banged over there, pushed over there, and ended up in a ditch and got hit again."

"We're trying to get out of the way of not getting run into by another car, but they hit us, and it just kept going," David recalled.

Lillie Weaver was driving to Bloomsburg University.

"Couldn't even see three feet in front of me. Then I knew I was getting close to an exit, so I went over into the right lane, and by then, my car had slid completely over into the bank, and there was no visibility. I could only hear cars around me hitting each other," Weaver said. "I was hearing loud bangs and explosions, and then I saw the smoke."

Investigators do not know when this section of Interstate 81 will reopen.

WARNING: The video below contains intense video, graphic language.

I81 Crash

Posted by Nikki Krize WNEP on Monday, March 28, 2022

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