Maryland State Police have said they are looking for the truck which began the massive chain-reaction crash involving almost 20 vehicles on southbound I-270 in Germantown this morning.
According to an MSP release, the accident began when an unknown box truck abruptly changed from lane three to the far right lane, causing other vehicles to brake rapidly in an attempt to avoid a collision. “A rapid chain of collisions then occurred. Traffic conditions were heavy during the morning rush hour. The unknown white box style trailer was last seen stopping briefly on the right shoulder after the collision but then continued driving Southbound on I-270 away from the scene.”
Any member of the public who may be able to assist in identifying the suspect vehicle or who witnessed the collision is encouraged to contact the Maryland State Police Rockville Barrack at 301-424-2101.
The collision happened at 5:20 am on Monday, March 19 and forced the closure of all four southbound lanes of just south of the Middlebrook Road entranced to I-270. State Police said the collision involved 18 vehicles, including three tractor-trailer trucks and 15 passenger cars or SUVs.
“One tractor and trailer truck involved was carrying a load of slate rocks, and numerous large boulders covered the lanes of travel, further complicating recovery efforts,” said State Police.
Because of the number of patients involved in the collision firefighters and EMS personnel declared the incident a “Mass Casualty Event,” according to Pete Piringer, senior spokesman for Montgomery County Fire Rescue Services. He said that about 24 patients were evaluated at the scene and four were transported to local hospitals. One patient was transported with serious injuries as Priority 1 trauma patient. Two others were transported as Priority 2 trauma patients. “One injury was more serious than the others, but it doesn’t appear to be life-threatening at this point,” said Piringer.
Montgomery County Police and Fire Rescue called in two Montgomery County Ride On buses to house commuters involved in the crash while police and EMS sorted out the scene.
In addition to the Maryland State Police Rockville Barrack patrol troopers, responders to the scene included troopers from the College Park Barrack, the Maryland State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, officers from Montgomery County Police Department, Gaithersburg Police Department, CHART, State Highway Administration, and personnel from four local tow companies.
The incident had an almost crippling effect on the early morning rush hour for UpCounty residents. The shutdown of I-270 southbound created an influx of traffic on secondary roads, and tertiary arteries headed south. Roads like MD-355, Brink Road, Germantown Road and Great Seneca Highway all increased volume, as did roads like Riffleford Road and Clopper Road in southern Germantown, Clarksburg Road in Boyds, and Wildcat Road and Davis Mill Road in the northern portions of Germantown.
The crash clean-up on southbound I-270 had the road closed for about two hours with some lanes being reopened at about 7:20 am and all lanes opening by 8:23 am, according to Maryland State Police.
MCPD also reported a collision in the southbound lanes of MD-355 just south of Plummer Drive which further added to the morning’s commuting nightmare.
“It was a very bad morning to be a commuter on Interstate 270,” said MCPD 5th District Commander, Capt. Mark Plazinski. “The sheer number of vehicles involved and the complete shutdown of I-270 had a big impact on the secondary routes throughout upper Montgomery County. I am grateful to the men and women of the MCPD who worked with our partner agencies to help Maryland State Police resolve the issue in the most efficient manner possible. I think that when you consider the magnitude of the collision, we are fortunate there was not any loss of life. I am also thankful to the thousands of commuters who remained patient as the public safety professionals investigated and cleared the wreckage from the roadway.”
Top: Maryland State Police continue to look for a white box-style truck which they say was responsible for this morning’s 19 vehicle pileup on southbound I-270, which left four people injured.
Next: The 19 vehicle collision included 15 passenger cars or SUVs, and three tractor trailers, one of which lost portions of its load of slate stones which created a nightmare scenario for commuters traveling behind them.
Photos courtesy MCFRS.