A snow squall that came on like a “dense fog” caused dozens of vehicles to pile up on Interstate 93 in Ashland, N.H., Friday morning, leaving one person seriously injured and 11 others with minor injuries. The northbound side of the highway was closed for hours.
The road, closed in the area around Exit 24 since before 10 a.m., reopened just after 1 p.m., police said.
In total, 12 people suffered injuries, none of which were life-threatening, State Police said in a statement.
The injured were taken to Franklin Regional Hospital and to Speare Memorial Hospital. One patient from each hospital was later transferred to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, the statement said. One person was admitted at Spare Memorial Hospital.
According to State Police spokesman Michael Anderson, the person with serious injuries was taken to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
About 35 vehicles were involved, including a tractor-trailer truck. One vehicle caught fire and was destroyed, the statement said. It damaged three other vehicles and the cargo in the tractor trailer.
Of the vehicles involved, 31 were towed, Anderson said.
“It certainly was a major incident,” said Bill Boynton, spokesman for the New Hampshire Department of Transportation. Boynton said the unexpected weather contributed to the size of the pile-up, as roads had not been pre-treated and drivers were unprepared.
While the crash is still under investigation, the area was hit quickly and intensely by the snow squall just before 10 a.m., Boynton said. Data showed pavement on I-93 was dry at 9:45 a.m., but slippery just three minutes later, he added.
Ben Coleman, of Bristol, N.H., whose car was hit twice in the pileup, said the snow came on suddenly.
“It was like coming out of a dense fog,” he said. “You hit the brakes and the brakes aren’t working obviously, so it was car hitting car after car.”
Although Coleman’s car suffered damage to the back bumper and driver’s side mirror, he said the result was minor compared to other vehicles involved in the crash.
“One car got pinned underneath the tractor-trailer and was completely engulfed in flame,” Coleman said.