Chain-Reaction Crash Injures 12 on I-270

By Howard Schneider and Debbi Wilgoren
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, January 9, 2009

Isolated patches of ice sent traffic into a tailspin along southbound Interstate 270 in Montgomery County yesterday when a 10-car pileup temporarily closed the highway during the morning rush.

A dozen people were transported to local hospitals, two with what authorities described as serious but not life-threatening injuries. The other 10 suffered only minor injuries.

The incident on I-270 was one of several accidents across the region attributed to icy conditions and treacherous spots of "black ice" that developed overnight on ramps and other elevated surfaces.

"We're working quite a few . . . they're just everywhere," a supervisor in the Prince George's County police communications office said. She said the intersection of North Keyes and Brandywine roads was shut down because a vehicle had struck a utility pole.

Officials at the Smart Traffic Center in Virginia said there were scattered icy patches on roads, but no significant accidents or backups. "We're getting calls about a few icy patches -- nothing major," said supervisor April Smith.

As salt trucks scrambled to address trouble spots in the region, Montgomery authorities were still clearing the wreckage from the series of accidents on I-270.

Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Pete Piringer said the difficulties began when a vehicle lost control on an HOV lane that splits from the main lanes of I-270, heading towards Democracy Boulevard near the Capital Beltway.

The chain reaction wreck that followed forced some vehicles off the road into a nearby woods, and caused one vehicle to overturn, Piringer said.

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