Saturday’s snowstorm caused multiple-vehicle pileups that closed westbound lanes of Interstate 76 in Portage County and the Ohio Turnpike, north of Akron.
More than three-dozen vehicles were involved in chain-reaction crashes shortly before 1 p.m. on the westbound lanes of the turnpike between State Route 8 and the Cuyahoga River Bridge, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
Two drivers were taken to nearby hospitals, but no serious injuries were reported.
Sgt. Adam Doles, of the Highway Patrol’s Berea post, described the scene as “a mile of crashes and stopped traffic,” with 18 crashes involving a total of 40 cars. Fourteen of the crashes happening within a one-mile stretch.
The westbound lanes of the toll road were reopened about 5 p.m.
On I-76, the westbound lanes from Tallmadge into Brimfield were shut down shortly before noon when the first of two multi-vehicle crashes happened, according to the Highway Patrol.
Former Beacon Journal sports writer David Lee Morgan Jr. was caught in the gridlock.
“There was a lot of snow and all of a sudden you couldn’t see anything in front of you,” he said. “I had to slow down really fast, I almost rear-ended someone, because all you could see was stopped brake lights. We sat there for a half-hour of no movement.”
Morgan, who was coming to Akron from Warren, said it took nearly three hours to get from the Route 5 exit to exist state Route 43 exit in Kent, where state troopers were directing traffic off the highway.
The first pileup, just east of Tallmadge Road, involved 11 vehicles, including three semi-tractor trailers, said Sgt. Don Dunbar of the Ohio Highway Patrol’s Ravenna post. Ten injured were taken to local hospitals.
The second crash happened about a mile west, near the Summit County Line.
Sixteen vehicles, including two semi-tractor trailers and one cargo box truck, were involved. Four people were injured.
Dunbar said that several other multiple-vehicle crashes involving commercial and passenger car vehicles occurred between the two crash sites.
None of the injuries in the crashes were life threatening. The westbound lanes of the interstate reopened about 6 p.m.
Dunbar blames the crashes on unusual weather conditions that included high winds and heavy blowing snow that reduced visibility and covered both lanes of traffic in a relatively small area.
“We didn’t have anything this significant in the county other than this one location,” Dunbar said.