Road conditions improve after black ice causes hundreds of accidents

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Monday, January 19, 2015
Rain refreezes overnight, creating some dangerous spots
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Joe Torres has more from Spring Valley.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Driving remained potentially hazardous in parts of the Tri-State Area Monday with some spots of black ice one day after hundreds of accidents were reported, but rising temperatures led to improved conditions through the day.

On Sunday, freezing rain caused icy roads and led to crashes and the closure of many bridges and roadways. Drivers were urged to just stay home. The ice was followed by heavy rain that left some streets under water, raising concerns about flooding.

Many viewers send it and tweeted photos showing just how quickly icy roads turned dangerous. There were cars sliding, spinning out and losing control, causing massive pileups.

YouTube user MrLegolize posted the following video from the New Jersey Turnpike.

He says he was blocked by two trucks on south bound I-95 at exit 9 in New Jersey (the New Brunswick exit) and only wanted to take a picture while he was awaiting for them to clear up, and then I heard noise from behind. He was barely missed.

Pharmacist Srinivasa Chintamaneni is counting his blessings after an out-of-control Jeep Cherokee slid down an ice-covered hill on Elm Street in Yonkers and slammed into everything but his store. Chintamaneni's surveillance camera captured the final moments of the free-fall.

"It literally hit the curb, got off balance, hit the fire hydrant and hit another car," he said. "And missed the store."

Salah Algaradi was on Elm Street as well. Moments after the Jeep slid past him, he ventured outside for a closer look. He ended up on his butt trying to help a man who simply couldn't move on the super slick sidewalk.

"It's like one sheet glass, ice, all over," he said. "I mean, I've never seen this in my life. This guy was stuck like that, like for about 10-15 minutes."

Algaradi said there were at least 10 accidents on the Elm Street hill.

And it was the same situation in Spring Valley, where people watched helplessly as driver after driver slid down Columbus Avenue and stopped only when they hit something.

"I was in the window, oh my gosh, no, no," eyewitness Shanel Wilson said. "Cause I could see it coming down and everybody was just outside. Everybody was just screaming."

There were crashes and spinouts on many major roadways, including the Palisades Parkway, the New Jersey Turnpike, the Bruckner Expressway, the Cross Bronx Expressway and the Taconic Parkway.

The FDNY was flooded with emergency calls - more than 3,700. In a rare move, the department called in help from neighboring departments, including 10 EMS units from New Jersey, 10 from Suffolk County and 10 from Nassau County. All of those extra units were lined up at the Holland Tunnel, ready to help with those calls.

The black ice led to nearly 700 crashes throughout the area. In New York there were 53 accidents alone - including several that involved more than a dozen vehicles.

"I spun about 180 degrees, after I was hit, I was facing the other direction," Earl Agbayani said.

Agbayani was behind the wheel of a van on the westbound side of the Bruckner Expressway when he and at least 25 others hit black ice and held on for dear life. Across the way on the westbound side, at least 15 cars crashed into each other and hit the guardrail.

At least a dozen cars were involved in a crash on the Cross County Parkway.

At least 400 accidents were reported in New Jersey throughout the day as a sheet of ice coated everything on the ground. Even New Jersey Transit threw in the towel, suspending bus service until 2 p.m.

There were road closures on parts of the Saw Mill Parkway, Cross Bronx Expressway, and Palisades Parkway due to the slick conditions.

The New York State Thruway was closed southbound from Newburgh to the New York City line.

State Police also advised motorists to avoid travel in Orange and Rockland Counties, with most roadways ice covered and impassable.

The Goethals Bridge, Bayonne Bridge, and Outer Bridge closed in both directions.

With temperatures in the upper 20ss in some spots, the rain led to a coating of ice on many roads and sidewalks, creating a frozen glaze.

In Ossining, the ice created the opportunity for a makeshift skating rink.

The icy roads also caused a pileup involving more than 20 cars on a major interstate outside Philadelphia on Sunday, a transportation department spokesman said.

All lanes of Interstate 76 were closed west of Philadelphia after a series of cars slammed into one another amid freezing rain around 6:30 a.m., PennDOT spokesman Eugene Blaum said. The extent of any injuries was not immediately clear.

And the icy and wet road conditions are suspected in the death of an 88-year-old woman whose car struck a utility pole in New Haven.

Police spokesman David Hartman said Elizabeth Mohr of Woodbridge lost control of her car as she drove on North Frontage Road at about 8 a.m. Sunday.

(Some information from the Associated Press.)