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Several injured in 75-car pileup on I-95 in Maine

Emergency personnel responded to a multi-vehicle pileup on I-95 near Bangor, Maine.MAINE STATE POLICE AND MAINE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

ETNA, Maine — Police in Maine say 75 vehicles got tangled up in a series of chain-reaction pileups on a snowy stretch of Interstate 95, injuring at least 17 people.

The crashes in Etna, near Bangor, started stacking up about 7:30 a.m. and involved several cars, a school bus and a tractor-trailer. At least 50 vehicles had to be towed from the scene, and state police said it was the largest crash in more than 15 years.

Two hospitals reported taking in 17 patients, some in serious condition. One person at the scene of the crash had a heart attack and some people suffered broken bones.

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Both northbound lanes of the highway were closed for at least five hours.

Emergency personnel climbed on top of cars to reach motorists stuck in the middle of the chaotic tangle of vehicles. McCausland said one veteran trooper described the site as a ''giant pile of metal.''

Traffic was at a stand still as emergency personnel responded to a multi-vehicle pileup.Maine State Police And Maine Emergency Management, Stephen McCausland

Rhonda Kent, an occupational therapist from Saint Albans, said her car was sideswiped amid the pileup, which sent cars and trucks spinning. Kent, who was not injured, said a logging truck came dangerously close to hitting her and spun off into a ditch.

''It was almost surreal, something you see in the movies,'' Kent said.

At a travel stop in nearby Newburgh, people involved in the crash were gathering to give statements to police, according to WZON-AM radio. Some were keeping warm in a parked school bus. Workers at the truck stop reported seeing more than a dozen ambulances try to access the highway from a nearby ramp.

Rose Butts, a hospital housekeeper from Plymouth, said she swerved to miss part of the accident and hit a snow bank. She and a friend were not injured but waited in her car for five hours for help.

''We're thankful that we're both alive and both OK,'' she said.

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Dylan Carroll, a Plymouth auto mechanic, said he swerved and hit a snow bank before a garbage truck spun out, tapped his car and blocked him. He was not injured.

''I thought it was going to be much worse than it was,'' Carroll said.

The school bus had three passengers aboard. Police said the students were ''shaken up'' but not injured.

There was at least an inch of snow on the ground at the time of the crash, according to the National Weather Service. Snow was forecast to fall throughout the day with total accumulations of 5 to 9 inches.

Below, watch video of the scene: