3 dead, many injured in 18-vehicle pileup during whiteout

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CLARION, Pa. (AP) - An 18-vehicle pileup that occurred in whiteout conditions Wednesday on a western Pennsylvania interstate left three people dead and dozens injured, authorities said.

Two people died at the scene on Interstate 80 and a third en route to a hospital, Clarion County Emergency Services director Vern Smith said.

Nine trucks, several of them tractor-trailers, and nine cars were involved in the crash that occurred at 1:40 p.m. in the westbound lanes of I-80 in Clarion Township, state police said. Two

"There was a whiteout. There was very heavy snow at the time with visibility virtually zero," Smith said.

Blinding Snow Covers Roads

State police said that two people who died were struck after exiting their vehicles at the scene. The victims' identities were not being released until families could be notified.

The pileup occurred about a mile east of the New Bethlehem-Clarion exit. At least one of the trucks was carrying hazardous material, but no leaks were found, Smith said.

Westbound lanes of the interstate were expected to remain closed until late Wednesday, state police said.

None of the injuries was thought to be life-threatening, although three of the approximately 20 people taken to Clarion Hospital were sent on to Pittsburgh hospitals with more serious injuries. The others were being treated for everything from bumps to broken bones, spokeswoman Julie Kunselman said.

The National Weather Service was issuing warnings about lake-effect snow squalls in the area Wednesday afternoon. The squalls were drifting southwest from Lake Erie.

Two of the tractor-trailers involved were empty, while one carried brine, one bath products and a third food, Smith said. The other vehicles included a UPS double trailer and a flatbed carrying pipes.

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