A 75-car pileup in Maine on Wednesday left 17 people injured and shut down Interstate 95 for five hours, police say. The collision occurred during a heavy snowstorm, the latest in a string of foul weather events to plague the U.S. Northeast this winter.
Crashes began in Etna, outside Bangor, around 7:30 a.m. and initially involved more than two dozen vehicles, including passenger cars, a school bus and a tractor-trailer, according to the Maine State Police. A series of related wrecks occurred throughout the morning as drivers struggled to halt their cars or gain control as they approached the main crash site. Several vehicles slid off roads, while others collided into groups of two and three. Fifty vehicles were towed away, while another 25 were damaged, police said.
At least 17 people were taken to the hospital, including two in serious condition. One person at the crash site had a heart attack, while others suffered broken bones, the Associated Press reported.
An inch of snow had fallen at the start of the crash, and temperatures hovered in the upper teens, according to the National Weather Service. Up to 9 inches of snow was expected to fall throughout the rest of Wednesday. A winter storm warning was in effect until 1 p.m.
Arctic blasts and snowy drifts have battered the eastern U.S. and Canada in recent weeks, and at least 20 people have died as a result of the frigid conditions. Maine and Massachusetts have been hit hardest by snowfall, with Boston getting just under 100 inches this winter, or more than three times the typical annual total. A shot of cold air last week broke decades-old record low temperatures in the Northeast.
During the collision, Dylan Carroll, an auto mechanic, said he swerved to miss part of the accident and hit a snow bank before a garbage truck spun out, tapped his car and blocked him, USA Today reported. He was not injured. Rose Butts, a hospital housekeeper, said she similarly swerved and hit the snow. She and a friend were not injured, though they waited in the car for five hours before help arrived, according to the media outlet.
Parts of northbound I-95, Maine's only interstate highway, remained closed for much of the morning as rescue workers, troopers and tow trucks responded to the accident.