Officials in Worcester, MA have cited freezing rain, black ice, and untreated roads as the major causes of the massive pileup on Interstate 290 in Worcester last weekend.
Black ice began to cover the highway around 6:30 a.m. Several drivers lost control of their vehicles while heading down the declining section of I-290 westbound. The first accident was reported on the westbound side of the highway near Exit 14 (Grafton Street).
A chain reaction began as cars piled up in the roadway. Two tractor-trailers slid sideways at the front and rear of the accident scene. Two large commercial trucks were also struck. State police estimated 65 vehicles were involved. According to reports, public safety officials were forced to climb through the mangled mess of cars to respond to people in need. State Police reported that of the 35 to 40 people who were injured, only two had suffered serious injuries. In total, the crash scene was more than 1,500 feet long.
“I am extremely surprised that nobody was killed, especially the vehicles that went under the trailer truck,” State Police Sgt. Stephen C. Marsh said in a statement. “We had to walk over the hoods of cars, under the trailer trucks. The scene was impenetrable.”
Investigators are looking at why the roads were so slippery, and whether the roads had been effectively treated. Initial reports stated that the part of the bridge where the accident occurred typically freezes before the rest of the highway, and that it is conceivable that road crews had not properly sanded and salted the roadway. The case is still under investigation.
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