It was nothing short of a Thanksgiving miracle that 95 people caught in a massive, terrifying pileup of 65 vehicles — including two tractor-trailers — survived a spectacular crash on an icy Interstate 290 in Worcester early yesterday, witnesses said.
“Somebody was definitely watching over a lot of people today,” said Joe Thibeault, supervisor of Boulevard Garage in Worcester, which towed 60 mashed and mangled wrecks.
“It was a miracle. All things considered, we all lucked out,” said John K., 39, who declined to give his full name. On his way to work at Home Depot, he said he was only able to stop before slamming into a jackknifed 18-wheeler because he skidded along the side of a Jersey barrier. Other cars that couldn’t stop had their roofs peeled back like sardine cans under the trailers.
At least 35 people were treated at local hospitals, mainly for minor injuries, although authorities said a man from Worcester and a woman from Washington, D.C., had serious injuries, while one toddler was being evaluated for a possible broken leg. A family’s terrier was found dead in a car from Maine, apparently killed when it was thrown in the car by the impact.
“It was the craziest thing I’ve ever been a part of,” said Leif Blomster, 42, who was driving home from Dover, N.H., to Baltimore. “It happened kind of quick. We noticed that the temperature was dropping and it was getting misty. My wife had said, ‘Be careful,’ so I went to apply the brakes and nothing happened. I threw the car into neutral and hit the brakes. We stopped about 10 feet before hitting someone.
“My wife said, ‘What about behind us?’ and we both looked in the mirrors and saw cars just flying at us,” Blomster continued. “And — boom! — airbags went off. I smelled smoke. And we just heard crash, crash, crash, crash, crash — and more and more accidents. We were hit at least two more times. The kids were crying.”
Blomster added, “God puts you in certain positions. You’re meant to be where you’re meant to be. We’re just lucky that’s all that was in store for us.”
State Trooper Dustin Fitch said the crash scene spread across 1,500 feet of roadway and involved two tractor-trailer units that jackknifed.
Highway safety crews anticipating the freezing drizzle began pre-treating roads in Worcester County at 2:30 a.m. and last passed over that section of I-290 about an hour before disaster struck, MassDOT spokesman Michael Verseckes told the Herald.
“We’ll go back and analyze from start to finish all the steps we took in advance of the storm, go back and review the changing forecast and whether we could have made better choices or whether this was something beyond our control,” Verseckes said.
Distributed by MCT Information Services