1 dead after multi-vehicle pile-up on I-81 near Delano, Schuylkill County

A Friday snow squall caused a fatal multiple car pileup in Schuylkill County on I-81 NB.

Officials on the scene tell us one person is confirmed dead.

Charles Ehrenberg, 55-year-old male of Hazelton, was not wearing a seat belt, according to police.

The road is still closed from exit 138 to exit 134 as crews work to clear the damaged vehicles in Delano.

Officials also confirmed 37 vehicles in total were involved in the crash.

Chief Robert Leshko of the McAdoo Fire Company has never seen a scene like this in his 35 years of service. He's say when he arrived he heard "multiple people yelling for help."

He was first to arrive on scene near mile marker 135 and says his first duty was to find the most critically injured.

"There was a gentlemen trapped and in serious condition," Leshko continued to say "He was extricated and taken to a local hospital. We had two more who were flown to a trauma center in Allentown."

18 others were injured and 23 others were bused to the nearby Hampton Inn to meet with family.

Andrew Jencks was traveling from Massachusetts and was on I-81 NB when he says the Snow Squall blanketed his window.

He wasn't involved in the accident but says "It was very slippery." Jencks continued to tell us that the road "Sort of turned into a pinball machine."

Officials say there is no word yet on when I-81 NB will reopen but that State Police are mapping out all 37 vehicles and are then towing them away from the scene.

No word yet on the status of anyone who was taken to the hospital for medical treatment.

Stay with CBS21 for updates on this story.

PennDOT issued a list of tips and resources for drivers if they do encounter snow squalls while on the road:

  • • Slow down gradually and drive at a speed that suits conditions.
  • • Turn your headlight on.
  • • Stay in your lane.
  • • Increase your following distance.
  • • Stay alert, keep looking as far ahead as possible and be patient.
  • • Reduce in-car distractions since your full attention is required.
  • • Use defroster and wipers.
  • • Keep windows and mirrors free of snow and ice.
  • • During whiteouts, come to a complete stop only when you can safely get as far off the road as possible or when there is a safe area to do so.
  • • Do not stop in the flow of traffic since this could cause a chain-reaction collision.
  • • Do not pass a vehicle moving slowly or speed up to get away from a vehicle that is following too closely.
  • • Always buckle up and never drink and drive.

Motorists can check conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles by visiting 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 770 traffic cameras.

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