FREDERICKSBURG, PA (AP) — Authorities released the names of the three people killed in a pileup of scores of vehicles on a central Pennsylvania interstate during a snow squall that also sent more than 70 people to hospitals.
Kenneth J. Lesko, 50, of Bethpage, New York; Francisca V. Pear, 54, of Bridgewater, New Jersey; and Alfred Dean Kinnick, 67, of Limestone, Tennessee, were all pronounced dead at the scene of Saturday morning’s crash on Interstate 78, state police in Lebanon County said Sunday.
The crash shortly before 9:30 a.m. Saturday occurred in what drivers reported as whiteout conditions, with very low visibility and a lot of drifting snow, Trooper Justin Summa said.
“People were saying they couldn’t see past the front bumpers of their cars,” Summa said Sunday.
The major crash along one stretch of I-78 in Bethel Township involved 64 vehicles, including a dozen commercial vehicles such as tractor-trailers and box trucks, but there were also “numerous secondary crashes” behind that as traffic backed up, Summa said.
A total of 73 people were taken by four medical helicopters and by ambulance for treatment at 11 hospitals. At least one remained in critical condition Sunday, but Penn State Hershey Medical Center said two others taken to the hospital with critical injuries had improved and most of the 13 people brought to the hospital had been discharged.
The interstate reopened Sunday morning following the pileup, which left tractor-trailers, box trucks and cars tangled together across three traffic lanes and into the snow-covered median about 75 miles northwest of Philadelphia.
Jenny Privitera and her husband, Jason, who weren’t injured, told the Lebanon Daily News that they were on their way to the Outdoor Show in Harrisburg when the crash happened.
“It was on and off sunny and cloudy, and all of a sudden there was just a whiteout,” she said. “We couldn’t see much in front of us. It lasted for 20-30 minutes. We could hear the crash behind us and everyone sliding.”
Police said more than 70 people were taken to a warming shelter operated by the American Red Cross at a firehouse in the area. The center closed Saturday night after stranded motorists were given an opportunity to get rental vehicles or hotels.
Among those caught in the pile up was the Penn State-Lehigh Valley men’s basketball team. They were heading to a game in New Kensington when their chartered bus was hit by a tractor-trailer. The school reported no serious injuries.