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December 14, 2009

46 injured in weather-related 50-car pileup in Conn.

By Anne M. Amato
Connecticut Post Online

SHELTON, Conn. — A mixture of rain and ice on a hilly section of Route 110 caused a chain reaction, 50 car pileup Sunday afternoon.

A preliminary investigation shows at least 46 people received minor injuries and six were transported to area hospitals with non-life threatening injuries, according to Assistant Fire Chief Nick Verdicchio, public information officer for the Shelton Fire Department.

"Most of the injured were checked out at the scene," said Verdicchio.

In addition to people, at least six dogs were in the damaged vehicles.

The accident happened around 12:45 p.m. "It was raining at the time and there was a rain/ice mix that covered the road and turned it into a sheet of ice," Verdicchio said.

The section of Route 110 where the accident took place runs from the White Hills section, down a sharp incline, to the city's downtown. He said the cars collided just north of Indian Well State Park. "We're assuming they came around the bend at the bottom of the hill" and, not realizing other cars had already collided, began "to crash into one another."

"It was chaos out there," he said.

Mayor Mark Lauretti was not at the scene but was in touch with emergency responders afterwards.

"It was one of those things that just snuck up on people. They started sliding before they even understood what was going on," said Lauretti. "It was one of those flash freezings that people got caught up in and caused havoc."

He said there have been issues with that half-mile stretch of Route 110 before but never like this. "Nothing even remotely close to this magnitude," he said.

Verdicchio said the fire department was already busy with a number of other accidents caused by the weather -- including a number of accidents on the exit ramps off Route 8 -- when the 50 car pileup happened.

He said afterward "there was an extensive procedure to get tow trucks in there" to remove all the damaged vehicles.

Verdicchio said a number of the cars involved "were disabled" and that a number of those involved in the accident were transported to the Echo Hose Fire Department and Echo Hose EMS for shelter because of the inclement and cold weather conditions.

He said Shelton fire units from White Hills, Echo Hose and Pine Rock Park were on the scene as well as Shelton police and Shelton EMS.

EMS units from a number of surrounding communities supplied mutual aid, including Ansonia, which sent its Mass Casualty Unit, he said.

The cleanup on Route 110 took several hours, he said. The road was reopened at about 6 p.m.

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