Sunday, December 18, 2016

Icy hell on earth around Metro D.C. area causes several deaths and many injuries

Wintry mix causes crashes, spin-outs, pileups and an explosion
  By Saeko Robinson | @WTOPsrobinson
and Hanna Choi December 17, 2016 7:26 am

Saturday morning's wintry blast wreaked havoc on D.C.-area roads, where conditions led to a 55-vehicle pileup and sent fire engines careening off the roads.

WASHINGTON —From a deadly crash involving at least 55 vehicles to fire engines skidding off the road, the number of traffic problems have skyrocketed across the greater D.C. area as a result of Saturday morning’s blast of winter weather.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the major crashes by region.

Slick road conditions triggered a chain-reaction crash involving 23 vehicles on the Inner Loop of the Beltway, near Gallows Road, at around 5:15 a.m., Virginia State Police said.

Icy conditions wreak havoc in DC region Weather
Freezing rain, sleet batter parts of Eastern US Weather Police said a man who walked away from his disabled vehicle in that crash was later found dead on the side of the side of the highway, about a mile away from the crash site.

State police did not identify the man and said they were still in the process of notifying his next of kin.

Four others were treated for minor injuries, police said.

Ice-coated morning in DC area captured in photos

Wintry weather walloped local roads and put the D.C. region in a deep freeze on early Saturday. WTOP listeners sent in these scenes. Due to the crash, tolls on northbound Interstate 495 express lanes were lifted as of around 8:30 a.m. Drivers were directed through the express lanes to detour the pileup. Officials on the scene closed northbound lanes of I-495 for the investigation and clean up.

All major roads were pre-treated, according to officials, but the wintry mix late Friday into early Saturday caused havoc — especially on bridges, overpasses and ramps.

Even fire engines were not safe from the icy roads. Two crashes were reported involving fire engines as they were responding to an emergency. One was on U.S. Route 50 near Interstate 66 in Fairfax County. Officials say an engine slid on ice and went off the road around 5:30 a.m. The second major fire engine crash occurred in Maryland.

On Interstate 95 through Baltimore, a fuel tanker slid over a jersey wall and burst into flames early Saturday, Baltimore City Fire Chief Roman Clark said. Omar Jimenez of WBAL posted video of the crash on Twitter.

Clark said the roads were very icy, but it’s too early to say what caused the tanker to careen off the highway.

In a separate incident, two people were killed in a chain-reaction crash involving 55 vehicles. Clark said it’s unclear whether the pileup started before the tanker crash or if it was caused by the incident.

As of 4:30 p.m., 23 people were being treated at University of Maryland Medical Center, with injuries ranging from head trauma and broken bones to cuts and scrapes, hospital officials said Saturday.

Four people were listed in “critical” condition; two others were listed in “serious” condition, hospital officials said.

Scores of traffic accidents were being reported across the region due to slick roads.

As of 1 p.m., Maryland state troopers had responded to 330 crashes across the state.

In Prince George’s County, Bowie Volunteer Fire was on the road in response to a call, but slid on ice and hit a power pole on Maryland Route 450, near Route 3.

There were no reports of serious injuries.

The National Weather Service issued a freezing rain advisory for the Baltimore-Washington D.C. region early Saturday and warned of travel difficulties on slippery roads.

Despite warming temperatures late Saturday afternoon, police were urging motorist to remain cautious and warned that dropping temperatures on Sunday could create a similar scenario in the morning.