Drivers Stranded on Interstate 81 for Crash Cleanup

SOUTH ABINGTON TOWNSHIP -- Police say six tractor-trailers and an SUV were involved in a fiery chain-reaction crash along Interstate 81 near the Clarks Summit exit (194) Tuesday night. It took until the early afternoon for crews to clear the crash scene. It made for a long day for emergency response and for dozens of drivers.

Interstate 81 south in Lackawanna County was like a skating rink, according to drivers as they braced for a long night.

Dozens of drivers skidded up to the scary scene as one tractor-trailer jackknifed on the ice causing a chain reaction crash. A Jeep was caught in the middle of it all. Two of the drivers were taken to the hospital to be checked out.

"I was very nervous at first because I was worried the cars behind me weren't going to slow and I was going to go right into everything," said Allie Giombolini, one of the drivers in a mile-long backup that sat for almost ten hours.

"I've been watching the gas gauge as we go. Thank God my heat still works. Crazy," said Gerald Hart.

Some tow crews were called to deliver gas to stranded drivers as the day wore on.

Others drivers headed south were redirected onto Route 347 in Scott Township.

"Slowed us down a little bit," said Jonny Derr of Endicott, New York "We rounded that turn up here on the highway and it was at a complete stop. So, luckily no one got rear-ended up here, but it's just not a safe situation."

It was a bad day all around. Mike Milewski and his tow crews were called out late Tuesday night to help clean up the crash. He says fire hindered their efforts. When he returned to his building in Scranton 14 hours later, he says the crash debris was still burning.

"The fire department, EMS, PennDOT, everybody was out there, just a long day," said Milewski.

A long day may be an understatement. Some might call it a bad day too, but Milewski says when you look at the wreckage, it certainly was a lucky day.

"Everyone went home, minor injuries, I guess, and they're lucky," he added.

The crash scene was cleaned up and I-81 south reopened around 1 p.m. Wednesday, but there's still a lot of work to do.

State police are investigating the crash. There is no word yet whether anyone will face any charges.

2 comments

  • jacksincharge

    …..said Allie Giombolini, one of the drivers in a mile-long backup that sat for almost ten hours…..
    so no one had the thought that maybe they should turn around the south bound drivers and have them back track to the nearest exit to get off?

    • K

      She’s my niece.. I was talking to her all night long. And asked the same question. The CS exit ramp was shortly ahead of the accident. Waverly exit is too far back. And it was mostly semis. So she sat for 10 hrs. She beat my record of sitting stuck in a snowstorm for 8 hrs on the scr expressway.

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