AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A sudden burst of snow Tuesday afternoon created horrible driving conditions on Interstate 80, leading to a major pileup involving about 20 vehicles — including several semis.
“It was heavy snow. You could see nothing, 20 to 25 feet,” said Valeri Baglai, who was on his way to Illinois.
Joe Schlies had over 500 miles to go to Wisconsin. He’s used to seeing snow and knows it was a whiteout.
“A lot of snow. People driving too fast for conditions, end of story. That’s it, I’m serious,” he said.
Three accidents took place within a quarter-mile. The first one was a two-vehicle crash on I-80 West, just past the bridge over the Meander Reservoir.
“What happened is the snow started to come in. We had one crash and then the crashes started to back up as a result of that,” said Jerad Sutton, with the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
The first accident triggered another six-vehicle crash involving three semis.
Then right at the end of the bridge, a third accident took place involving 11 vehicles, including seven trucks.
“I was watching his brake lights, that’s why I’m not in it,” Schlies said. “He tried to stop way back there and he just kept going.”
He and Baglai were the first truck drivers to avoid the accident, but they were still stuck in traffic for three-and-a-half hours until crews could tow all of the crashed vehicles and clean the road. Traffic was backed up for miles.
“I stopped, and thank God I stopped. It’s terrible, I didn’t see nothing. You couldn’t see nothing with that snow,” Schlies said.
There was also an accident in the eastbound lanes, which may have been because of the snow.
Sutton said the initial accident was definitely weather-related. From there, snow and speed continued to play a role in the accidents that followed.
“They were going too fast for the conditions and weren’t able to stop in time to avoid a collision,” Sutton said.
I-80 westbound at State Route 46 has since reopened.
Six people were taken to the hospital — two of which were considered to have critical injuries.
Interstate 80 pileup
Interstate 80 pileup x