Officials have identified the man who was killed in a massive and deadly pileup involving 56 vehicles on Interstate 76 in Montgomery County Sunday morning amid icy road conditions.
Eric Alan Blau, 31, of Philadelphia was killed and 30 others were hurt in the crash that happened in the westbound lanes of I-76 near the Gulph Mills exit in Upper Merion around 6:40 a.m., according to officials.
Blau's vehicle, a silver Mazda Protege, was one of the first vehicles involved in the crash and became disabled, investigators said. Blau then exited his car and was struck by another vehicle, according to investigators. He later died from his injuries.
"It's really sad," said Willie Mahfouz, Blau's friend and former roommate. "Very sad. He was very young. But what can you say?"
Westbound lanes on I-76 remained closed more than four hours after the crash occurred as rescuers loaded the more than two dozen injured onto a bus to transfer them to local hospitals.
"When we got here, there was heavy smoke coming from a lot of the cars," said Kaitlyn Maier, a driver caught in the jam on I-76. "People had already stopped and were sitting outside of their cars."
Victor Moye was traveling on the Schuylkill Expressway on his way to work when he crashed into other vehicles that stopped along the busy interstate.
The Pottstown man is simply grateful he buckled up while driving.
"I'm lucky I had my seatbelt on," Moye said. "Thank God I had my seatbelt on."
Moye, who was treated at Bryn Mawr Hospital for minor shoulder and back injuries, said he started pumping his brakes when he saw traffic at a halt ahead of him, but it was too late.
"As I hit the car, a car comes behind and hits me," he said. "I'm swinging around four, five times as other cars are hitting that car and hitting me as well."
Another man rushed to Bryn Mawr Hospital when he learned his wife was hurt in the accident.
"All of a sudden, my wife said she saw the cars in front of her start sliding," said Bernard Caldwell, of Philadelphia. "So she slowed down and then she saw an accident in front of her."
"Then she stopped and a car ran into the back of her," he continued. "She got out and could see the melee with all the different cars."
"She was very scared," said Caldwell, who added they now are working out how to recover her damaged vehicle.
Once all those hurt were transferred to area hospitals -- just after 11:30 a.m.-- crews began working to open one westbound lane of traffic. They used cranes to pick up cars mangled in a mess of steel and plastic on the highway.
At least three local hospitals are treating patients involved in the I-76 crash. At least 15 people were transferred to Bryn Mawr Hospital, 11 to Paoli Hospital and five to Lankenau Medical Center, officials said.
Slick roads also caused collisions that closed parts of Interstates 95 and 476 in and around Philadelphia. Along the Walt Whitman Bridge in South Philadelphia, more than two dozen cars, including a Delaware River Port Authority police cruiser, were involved in a chain reaction crash in the westbound lanes.
Authorities from multiple counties are urged drivers to stay home as road conditions turned dangerous throughout the region.
PennDOT had nearly 150 trucks out treating roadways before daybreak, when it became clear that conditions would be slippery, said PennDOT's Eugene Blaum. A freezing rain advisory was in effect in the area through 10 a.m. but temperatures were forecast to rise into the 40s later Sunday.
The deadly expressway accident was one of more than a dozen reported on roads around the region on Sunday morning, some causing closures while others just blocked lanes.
At least two people were also killed in a multi-vehicle accident on I-476 near Marple Road in Broomall, police said. A third deadly crash took the life of a fourth person on Route 55 in Gloucester County, authorities said.
In New Jersey, state police reported more than 425 accidents. New Jersey Transit bus service was suspended in icy areas.
A swath from Pennsylvania to Maine was under a freezing rain advisory, according to the National Weather Service.
In New York City and its northern suburbs, the dangerous conditions forced sections of roads to close all over the area. City authorities received so many 911 calls related to the slippery conditions that New Jersey sent 10 ambulances to the city to assist emergency responders.
Cars inched along on local roads, where braking at stoplights meant unexpected swerves as drivers tried to get traction on slippery surfaces.
In Connecticut, an 88-year-old Woodbridge woman died in one of 40 crashes in New Haven Sunday morning amid treacherous, icy conditions.
Meanwhile, ice and heavy fog caused a pile-up involving 70 cars and 17 semi-trucks in Oregon on Saturday night, according to Oregon State Police. At least 12 people were injured in the crash, police said.
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