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‘The entire back end of my car is gone’

Posted at 1:40 PM, Feb 14, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-14 13:41:12-05

(CNN) — About 100 vehicles crashed in a series of wrecks on the eastbound Pennsylvania Turnpike just north of Philadelphia Friday morning, injuring at least 30 people and causing an hours-long traffic backup for miles over parts of two counties, officials said.

The wrecks started around 8:25 a.m. ET with a 14- or 15-vehicle collision in southern Bucks County, not far from New Jersey state line, said Bill Capone, spokesman for Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.

About 20 more sets of wrecks happened over a miles-long stretch of the turnpike, said Pat Ponticelli, Bensalem Township’s deputy director of public safety, each apparently happening as traffic slowed for the crashes ahead.

Aerial video from CNN affiliate WPVI showed vehicles smashed against each other, the noses of each pointing in different directions. In one spot, at least nine vehicles appeared to be crunched in a jumbled group behind a tractor-trailer. In another, a couple of vehicles had come to rest against a jackknifed truck.

Thirty people were taken to hospitals, Capone said. Details about the injuries weren’t immediately available.

One hospital — Abington Memorial Hospital — told CNN it has received 16 injured people, including five trauma patients and 11 with minor injuries.

Heather Pasco, a driver involved in one of the crashes, told CNN affiliate KYW that she thought she was a goner.

Pasco said she had stopped her car after she saw “cars bouncing off of the center divider.” Although she stopped, a truck behind her didn’t, she said.

“I looked in my rearview mirror, and there was a big … truck right behind me, and he was trying to stop, but he was sliding and he slammed right into the back of me, which then made me slam into the car in front of me,” she told KYW.

“I saw him (in the mirror), and I thought I was done,” Pasco added. “The entire back end of my car is gone.”

Police told her that her wreck was about 3.5 miles behind the initial crash, she said. She said the road, after snow and freezing rain had fallen in the area, wasn’t “really plowed very well.”

KYW reported that the turnpike was slick. But authorities so far have not attributed the crashes to weather, said Kevin Rathman, a Pennsylvania State Police trooper.

Traffic was backed up for miles, stretching westward into adjacent Montgomery County, and it could take hours before the traffic is cleared, Capone said around 10:20 a.m.

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