Crashes involving up to 40 vehicles close 11 miles of eastbound Interstate 90 near Cleveland

12/24/2013
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Safety forces work the scene of the pile-up.
Safety forces work the scene of the pile-up.

A man walks through the wreckage as he waits for safety crews to clear the massive pile-up.
A man walks through the wreckage as he waits for safety crews to clear the massive pile-up.

PAINESVILLE, Ohio — A series of crashes involving up to 40 vehicles during snow squalls on Tuesday shut down the eastbound lanes of Interstate 90 east of Cleveland for hours, authorities said.

The crashes closed an 11-mile stretch of the interstate just before noon. The highway, about 30 miles east of downtown Cleveland, was closed most of the afternoon but reopened by dinnertime, a State Highway Patrol dispatcher said.

Initial reports indicated the crashes began with a large pileup, followed by more collisions behind it, said Capt. Carl Dondorfer, of the Lake County sheriff’s office.

A few people were hospitalized, but no serious injuries were reported.

Pickup trucks, cars and sport utility vehicles were sandwiched against a guardrail and facing different directions.

Interstate 90 links Cleveland with Erie, Pa., and Buffalo, N.Y. Traffic on the road was especially heavy because of the Christmas holiday, Dondorfer said.

The area where the interstate was closed is just south of Painesville and in a place known as the Snow Belt. Strong winds coming across Lake Erie often dump unusually large amounts of snow across that area.

A long line of trucks waits for hours as the debris from the I90 pile-up is cleared.
A long line of trucks waits for hours as the debris from the I90 pile-up is cleared.

“This is the area we tend to get several crashes when we have snow squalls,” Dondorfer said.