EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — As crews continue their efforts to reopen the interstate. Eyewitness News spoke with those who responded to Monday’s deadly crash.
State Troopers said they hope to have the interstate reopen by later Tuesday evening. The removal of wreckage continues.
But then the interstate also has to be ‘milled.’ Basically removing a portion of the surface of the road because of gas and oil that are burnt into the concrete.
On Monday, first responders say training helped them deal with this violent crash.
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Eyewitnesses describe the scene as a war zone with heavily damaged vehicles everywhere you looked, several trucks on fire, thick smoke filling the air.
John Matz is Emergency Management Coordinator for Schuylkill County.
“Andy this has been a major operation from the second that it happened,” said John Matz-Schuylkill County, EMA coordinator.
The carnage unfolded at around 10:30 a.m. Monday morning on I-81 bound near the Minersville exit. State Troopers say fast-moving snow squalls caused a whiteout with near-zero visibility and slippery road conditions.
“Once we started getting first responders on scene we were also receiving dozens and dozens of calls coming from the people involved in the accident you know so it put a real strain on 911. We immediately got extra people in there to assist,” said John Matz.
Matz says regular training for incidents like this really paid off.
“I think the training that we do every day brings all of the emergency disciplines is tremendous, particularly our interaction with the fire chiefs. Each fire chief knows what their resources are. What capabilities are,” Matz said.
What should a person do if they are involved in a chain reaction crash like this? State Troopers say safety had to be the first priority. They point to cell phone video taken during the crash that shows how dangerous these situations can be.
“You can number one stay in your car with your seatbelt fastened you can do that. Or two, if you get out of the car. You don’t want to be getting your phone out starting to record what’s happening. Play by play. Get out of the car and get away from the road as far as you can,” explained Pennsylvania State Trooper David Beohm.
The removal of the wreckage continues at this hour.
Again state police say they hope to reopen the interstate sometime later tonight.