Wrecks close part of Pennsylvania Turnpike near Philly

12:45 PM, Feb 14, 2014   |    comments
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Vehicles are piled up at mile marker 286 on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, a mile outside Reading. Portions of both the turnpike and Interstate 78 were shut down in snowy eastern Pennsylvania after chain-reaction pileups involved dozens of vehicles on slippery roads.



(CNN) -- A series of multi-vehicle crashes stopped traffic for hours Friday morning in the eastbound lanes of the Pennsylvania Turnpike just north of Philadelphia, police said.

The wrecks started around 8:25 a.m. ET with a 14- or 15-vehicle collision in southern Bucks County, not far from New Jersey state line, said Bill Capone, spokesman for Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.

Accidents involving a smaller number of vehicles happened in at least two other places behind the first area, said Kevin Rathman, a Pennsylvania State Police trooper.

Three people suffered minor injuries in the first group of wrecks, and authorities were trying to determine how many were hurt in the other areas, Capone said.

Traffic was backed up for miles, stretching westward into adjacent Montgomery County, and it could take hours before the traffic is cleared, Capone said around 10:20 a.m.

Early local media reports said as many as 100 vehicles might have been involved in the wrecks, but Capone said he could not confirm that number.

"Some people are assuming it's more because when you look at the camera views from some of the local affiliate TV station helicopters, it shows all the traffic that's backed up behind it," Capone said. "But many of those vehicles were not involved in the accident -- they're just stuck in traffic behind the various accident scenes."

CNN affiliate KYW reported the turnpike was slick, with freezing rain in the Philadelphia area. But authorities so far have not attributed the crashes to weather, Rathman said.

In one area of the turnpike, aerial video from KYW showed vehicles jammed together near the rears of two tractor-trailers.

In another section, emergency workers parked their vehicles on the leftmost westbound lane and hopped over a concrete barrier to help people at a cluster of cars that had crashed in the eastbound lanes.

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