My 1996 VW Passat Wagon GLS-TDI
I-80w PA mile 267 Accident Friday 12/28/2001

      Claire and I are all right.  We have some scratches, bruises and sore parts, but are better than many!

      Between 2pm and 2:30 on Friday Claire and I were in an accident on I-80 westbound in Pennsylvania (near Hazelton) just before mile 267 (we had gone up the NE Ext. of the PA Turnpike from Allentown and were almost to Rt. 309, exit 262).  An unpredictable "snow squall" or "whiteout" (as it has been called in different articles) came up very quickly.  Both lanes became snow covered within a minute and visibility was very short.  All of the traffic was in the process of gradually slowing down when we came upon a group of cars and trucks sliding out of control.  I, wanting to not be in a large group of vehicles, had moved into the passing lane before I saw the start of the accident.  Because I was in the rather empty passing lane, I had time to slow down to some extent before realizing that I had no choice but to hit a white Honda Accord (see attached pictures), which itself had not yet stopped sliding having been hit at least 3 times.  Every slight touch of the brakes caused all four wheels to slide so just before hitting the Honda I stopped pumping the brakes and swerved to hit the right front wheel (the other 3 or 4 impacts are from other vehicles).  I really did not want to hit the doors for fear of hurting someone inside.  The airbags in the Passat went off (both driver and passenger) with a sound that I could not differentiate from the impact.  I expect that we hit the Honda doing about 25MPH.  The smell of the airbags was awful, so I told Claire to get out.  We jumped the guardrail and ran for the trees expecting more vehicles to come from behind.  Many impacts could be heard but, the space where our car ended up was protected by a pair or tractor-trailer trucks that stopped less than 30 feet behind us.

      The Passat TDI, leaking no fluids, made it possible for us to drive to find a mile marker and a cross over from the eastbound side and notify 911.  During my first of three calls to 911 the woman asked for a mile marker, as if help would not come unless I found one.  Then when we returned to the accident I offered to Joe and Sharon's family, heading to the Cleveland area from Long Island, to take shifts in the back seat to stay warm. (Note: the red mini van in the newspaper picture was their rented van - See "I-80w Accident.doc")  The TDI idled, keeping us warm, for almost 5 hours while we waited for the numerous MedEvac helicopters, ambulances and rescue vehicles to move.

      Again, a huge THANK YOU to the crews that responded so quickly, everyone did a great job!  Their response was "we are just doing our jobs".

      These are some of the accounts of the accident Claire and I were involved in on Friday.  The links may not be current, also see links in message (above).

      Minor mention of the accident we were involved in The accident that we were in was on I-80 westbound near Hazelton where one person died that I know of -

     I found out yesterday that the Passat is close to being totalled by the insurance company ($8,202 worth of damage, 80% of NADA value of about $11,000 (Kelly Blue Book value is over $13,000, but of course they wouldn't use that) is $8,800).  And sadly that does not include replacing the European (E-Code) headlights that the car had when I bought it.  The adjuster said that the headlights would put it past being totalled.


Designed in 32 bit color.
Updated on January 5th, 2002.