A 12-year-old girl was killed in an 87-car pile-up on an Ohio highway on Sunday after a burst of snow hit the area. The accident shut down the highway, I-275 near Cincinnati, for seven hours, WCPO.com reported.
Authorities believe the girl had left her car to investigate another crash when she was hit by a steel cable that had been snapped off a guard rail after it was hit by a car. She was transported to a trauma hospital where she was pronounced dead. Two other children in the car, ages 4 and 4, were transported to local hospitals, WCPO.com reported.
The icy roads, brought on so immediately, were likely to blame, sending 60 cars and 16 tractor-trailers spinning and slamming into each other on the highway just after 11:35 a.m. on Sunday, Reuters reported.
"Eighteen years on patrol, and I've never seen anything like it," Hamilton County Sheriff's spokesman Jim Knapp told Reuters.
Twenty others from other cars were also sent to hospitals.
Raw footage from the accident shows a line of cars along the highway, all stopped and facing in random directions. Crews used hydraulic rescue tools – better known as “jaws of life” – to free drivers and passengers from three cars. They found several cars trapped under semi-trucks.
The Cincinnati Enquirer described the scene as vehicles crunched “like an accordion.” The Enquirer put the number of cars in the wreck at 87; other sources were more conservative. Reuters counted 76 cars in the crash.
At issue were the icy roads and limited visibility. Scott Hickman, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, told the Enquirer that warm roads may have caused snow to melt and, as temperatures dropped, dangerously freeze again.
Bad weather caused other pile-ups over the holiday weekend. Twenty-four hours after the major crash, at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, 50 cars collided on Interstate 75, although there were no fatalities. Minor injuries were reported in a 13-car pile-up near Mansfield, Ohio.