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Interstate 80 open after multivehicle crash

Interstate 80 westbound between the Lamar and Bellefonte exits, in Centre County, was closed for several hours, February 12, 2015, due to a multi-vehicle accident.
Interstate 80 westbound between the Lamar and Bellefonte exits, in Centre County, was closed for several hours, February 12, 2015, due to a multi-vehicle accident. CDT photo

Interstate 80 westbound was shut down between Lock Haven and Milesburg for about two hours Thursday because of a multivehicle accident near mile marker 164, PennDOT spokeswoman Marla Fannin said.

Eastbound traffic was restricted to one lane but, by about 2 p.m., the eastbound lanes were open and westbound traffic was restricted to one lane. All lanes are now open.

A witness at the scene said a snow squall caused the chain-reaction crash.

Undine Fire Company Chief Jim Pressler said there were no reports of significant injuries, but people were taken to regional hospitals with minor injuries, he said.

Emergency personnel had no access to the accidents along the westbound route and had to cross over, Pressler said, traveling eastbound and discovered the westbound lane had been completely blocked by a tractor-trailer.

According to state police, a heavy snow squall caused whiteout conditions, covering the road surface. Twenty-six vehicles were involved in 11 separate crash scenes within a 3-mile stretch of road.

Sam Coefer Jr., of Watauga, Tenn., said he was driving his tractor-trailer west along the interstate when he heard other drivers “literally screaming” on the CB radio that an accident had occurred close to mile marker 162.

Another driver said he had hit a car, Coefer said.

“It was a pure whiteout,” he said. “You see it on TV, but you never expect to be in one.”

Phil McAfee, of Unionville, said whiteout conditions made the road extremely slick. A passing truck caused the accident, he said, which caused additional accidents as everyone slowed down behind it.

McAfee’s truck was rear-ended by another vehicle, he said, which knocked his small tractor from its trailer.

“It was all over in a couple seconds,” he said.

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