Numerous vehicles crash on icy I-80, close westbound lanes for hours in Clearfield County

lfalce@centredaily.comFebruary 19, 2014 

A series of accidents involving at least 49 vehicles forced the closure of Interstate 80 in Clearfield County for most of Wednesday.

Freezing rain and snow squalls Wednesday morning were thought to be the cause for the accidents. Only one serious injury was reported, according to emergency officials.

The highway was closed in both directions, but the westbound lanes — where the accidents occurred — were shut down between the Clearfield and Kylertown exits in Clearfield County into Wednesday evening.

“I believe there is one serious injury of a truck driver who had to be cut out of his truck,” said Joe Bigar, Clearfield County emergency management coordinator. “There were no fatalities.”

Bigar said every ambulance service in Clearfield County except DuBois EMS was on the scene. The American Red Cross from Philipsburg set up shelters in Morris Township.

“There were a lot of people who didn’t realize they were hurt until they had been standing around for a while,” he said.

State Department of Transportation spokeswoman Marla Fannin confirmed that as many as 50 vehicles were involved in the crashes, and that a second single-vehicle accident involving a tanker truck had extended the original closure by 7 miles.

She said the westbound lanes were closed due to the accidents, but that eastbound lanes were closed for a time to allow better emergency access.

As of 6:30 p.m., the left-hand westbound lane had opened, though the right lane was still closed between mile markers 127 and 128, a PennDOT release said. All detours had been lifted, and all lanes were expected to be open by midnight.

U.S. 322 and state Route 53 served as detours, but they were backed up for many miles. I-80 was backed up from the Kylertown overpass to Browns Run on Wednesday afternoon.

All five Centre County school districts and most private schools closed for the second-straight day.

Two flights at University Park Airport were canceled Wednesday. Minor power outages in Curtin, Patton and Potter townships were reported by West Penn Power on Wednesday.

Minor flooding had occurred from melting snow in parts of State College as well as Ferguson and Patton townships, creating water hazards along some roads.

Follow Lori Falce on Twitter @LoriFalce.

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