The Pennsylvania Turnpike crash that killed five people and injured about 60 Sunday morning involved a tragic succession of events in which two tractor-trailers struck an overturned tour bus before a third crashed into the first two.
“It was a kind of a chain reaction-type crash,” Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Steve Limani said during a news conference.
The bus overturned into an embankment about 3:40 a.m. after failing to negotiate a curve on a westbound stretch of the Turnpike 30 miles east of Pittsburgh in Westmoreland County, Limani said. The impacts of the tractor-trailers, laden with parcels, quickly followed.
Investigators have yet to identify the specific cause of the Jan. 5 accident, but Limani said sudden rainfall could have played a role. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash alongside police.
As of 7 p.m., authorities had reopened traffic in the eastbound lanes of the Turnpike. Still, 86 miles of the westbound lanes remained closed from New Stanton to Breezewood as the investigation and efforts to clear the wrecked vehicles continued.
Images from the wreck appear to show two heavily damaged tractor trailers from UPS (NYSE: UPS) and one from FedEx Ground (NYSE: FDX). Neither company would discuss any details of the crash or any drivers or vehicles involved.
“UPS is cooperating with authorities in the investigation, and we express our deepest sympathies to the victims and their families and friends,” UPS spokesperson Kristen Petrella told FreightWaves.
FedEx Ground offered similar sentiments.
“First and foremost we extend our deepest condolences to the families of the individuals involved in this accident. There is no higher priority for FedEx Ground than safety, and we are cooperating fully with investigating authorities at this time,” FedEx Ground spokesperson Allie Addoms wrote in an email to FreightWaves.
“We continue to extend our deepest thoughts and concerns for the service providers involved in this accident,” Addoms added.
Police would not say whether any of the truck drivers were among those dead or injured, as authorities are still notifying families.