Two major accidents — one resulting in the death of a driver — occurred Tuesday afternoon along a 12-mile stretch of Interstate 80 between Northumberland and Montour counties.
At 1:43 p.m., a tractor-trailer reportedly hydroplaned out of control and jackknifed in front of a number of other vehicles between Exits 215 (PA 254) and 212B (Interstate 180 West-Williamsport), in Turbot Township, officials said. The crash caused an eight-vehicle pileup, involving several tractor-trailers, and closed the westbound lanes for several hours.
The driver of a garbage truck, Earl McCormick Jr., 74, of Berwick, was pronounced dead at the scene at 3:10 p.m., Northumberland County Coroner James F. Kelley said in a news release. An autopsy has been scheduled for Thursday, he added.
Kelley said an investigation continues into the crash and its causes.
Shortly afterward, at 2:24 p.m., another crash involving multiple vehicles occurred on I-80 East between Exits 224 (PA 54-Danville) and 212A (PA 147 South-Milton), closing down both lanes of the interstate. Following the initial accident, another crash reportedly happened when a motorist approached the affected area at a high rate of speed and struck a stationary vehicle from behind.
Neither state police nor PennDOT reported drivers suffering any injuries in the second crash. State police did not respond to calls for comment late Tuesday night.
A steady rain was falling in the area at the time of the crashes, witnesses said.
Kimberly Smith, a PennDOT District 3-0 safety press officer, said motorists need to exercise good judgment when driving in inclement weather.
“From a traffic safety perspective, under inclement weather conditions with reduced visibility, we want drivers to turn on their headlights, drive slowly and increase their following distance between traffic ahead of them from the usual three to four seconds on dry roadways to six to eight seconds,” Smith said. “Don’t drive through pooling water if you can’t see the roadway because it may be a lot deeper than you think. If a road is closed because of flooding, obey the signs; turn around, don’t drown.”