Video: Wrecked weekend

updated 10/17/2004 9:22:19 AM ET 2004-10-17T13:22:19

Traffic resumed flowing smoothly on Interstate 95 on Sunday, a day after more than 90 vehicles crashed in a string of collisions apparently triggered by sleet and rain.

A fast-moving storm dumped hail and rain along an 11-mile stretch of the highway, one of the busiest on the East Coast. No deaths were reported, but authorities said 50 people were injured, some seriously, in 17 separate accidents involving 92 vehicles in suburban Baltimore.

The wrecks were apparently triggered by sunlight shining off sleet dumped by the storm. The accidents started happening about 4:30 p.m. Saturday after hail and rain fell on the highway.

A section of I-95 was closed in both directions, but authorities reopened all lanes late Saturday night. Traffic was moving smoothly by Sunday morning, Maryland State Police spokesman Maj. Greg Shipley said.

Cindy James, of Woodbridge Va., said the road wasn’t slippery but the glare was unusually strong from sleet on the road, even while wearing sunglasses.

“Everybody stopped because of the glare and the sleet,” said James’ 15-year-old daughter, Veronica.

Susan Whickers, of Baltimore, said she knew she was in trouble when drivers in all four lanes slammed on their brakes.

“I was thinking, ’Oh God,’ because the car in front of us went right under a tractor-trailer,” Whickers said.

Leslie Baker, an emergency medical technician with the Joppa Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company, said she knew of 49 people who had been injured, including 22 in one crash involving a bus with 30 people aboard.

Baker said that while she was helping at that accident, she saw other crashes happen, one involving a tractor-trailer running over another vehicle.

Officials said four people were hospitalized overnight — one at Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, two at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center and one at Johns Hopkins Bayview Hospital.

There also were numerous minor injuries, the state police said, but the total number of people transported to hospitals was not immediately clear.

Maryland State Police Cpl. Rob Moroney said the pileup was worse than an 89-car pileup last year on Interstate 68 in western Maryland.

“It’s just unbelievable,” Moroney said. “Amazingly, amazingly, so far, we have no fatalities. We’re very, very, very, very happy that it’s gone that way so far.”

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