Turnpike pileup subject of investigation, hearing

Posted: February 23, 2014

Slick pavement, speeding drivers, and poor visibility due to sun glare were among the factors that led to last week's massive pileup on the turnpike, state police said Friday.

Legislative and Pennsylvania Turnpike officials also announced that they would investigate the causes of and emergency response to the accident, which damaged about 100 vehicles and injured at least 25 people.

And Gov. Corbett directed the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to review the state's response to this winter's storms, which, in addition to the turnpike mash-up, have caused widespread power outages and dumped large amounts of snow across the state.

The turnpike incident, which occurred Feb. 14 seven miles east of the Willow Grove exit, shut down a section of the highway for about eight hours.

State Police Capt. Greg Bacher, commander of the unit in charge of turnpike patrols, said in a statement that storms in the weeks before the accident led to unpredictable road conditions across the state and that "it's sometimes impossible to keep the highways completely ice- and slush-free."

He said that accident investigations would result in at least 10 speeding citations and that the after-incident reviews were continuing.

Turnpike officials said their internal investigation would focus on how the accident might have been prevented or made less severe, and the Senate Transportation Committee, chaired by John Rafferty Jr. (R., Montgomery), will hold a hearing on the accident.

Corbett said Friday that the Emergency Management Agency would review its response to recent winter storms - including the Public Utility Commission's response in working with electric utilities to restore power.

More than 700,000 Peco customers lost power this month during an ice storm.

cpalmer@phillynews.com609-217-8305 @cs_palmer

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