Pa. Turnpike, I-78 reopen after pileups in Berks County

MORGANTOWN, Pa. - December 26, 2013

Pa. Turnpike officials said Thursday that approximately 35 vehicles piled up at related accidents shortly before 9:00 a.m., blocking westbound lanes and causing a 4-mile backup between the Morgantown and Reading exits in Berks County.

"We were coming down and it just started snowing really heavy, and then all of a sudden I just saw cars hitting each other," witness Carol James said.

There were crashes reported at four different locations along about two miles of the westbound turnpike.

A fast moving snow squall reduced visability.

"Oh look, it was flurrying, and then flurrying just went to whiteout, and all you saw was brake lights," said Denise Stancati.

Near mile marker 289, at least 25 smaller vehicles plus several tractor trailiers including one hauling propane tangled.

"You see trucks to the left of you and trucks to the right of you, and you just try to stop and stay in your lane," said Al Salvitti.

A white pickup truck was among the most seriously damaged and later caught fire, but after its driver apparently got out.

"He was hurt a little bit. He was conscious, walking around, his hand was bleeding, his nose was bleeding," witness John Stancati said.

Bobby Brewer's black corvette was in the middle of the chaos but was untouched.

"It was terrifying," said Brewer. "The crash and the carnage; it was terrifying."

Turnpike spokeswoman Renee Colborn says at least nine people were injured, two severely. There no reports of fatalities.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania State Police say about 40 vehicles piled up in multiple Thursday morning crashes on I-78 and shut down the westbound lanes in Berks County between mileposts 35 and 40.

Police say the accident happened around 8:45 a.m. and there were no fatalities reported, although one person was flown to a hospital by helicopter.

There were 44 reported injuries in all.

The lanes reopened after 3 p.m.

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