I-78 crash causes three fatalities, dozens of injuries

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line staff writer | Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A sudden “snow swell” led to an accident that involved 64 vehicles and killed three people on Saturday, Feb. 13 along Interstate 78 in Lebanon County, Pa., according to a Pennsylvania State Police spokesman.

The crash resulted in 73 people being transported to 11 area hospitals.

Among the injured were three fatalities. Those include Kenneth Lesko, 50, of Bethpage, N.Y.; Francisca Pear, 54, of Bridgewater, N.J., and Alfred Dean Kinnick, 57, of Limestone, Tenn.

Kinnick was among the 12 involved in the accident who were driving commercial motor vehicles.

Lebanon County experienced freezing rain and snowfall throughout the weekend. Temperatures were near or below zero.

“There was a snow swell,” Pennsylvania State Police Trooper David Boehm said. “It was near whiteout when it came through the area.”

Boehm said it was the largest accident in his 23 years with Troop L.

“I don’t remember our troop ever having a crash with that many vehicles,” Boehm said. “It has happened across the state with similar types of events. It’s the same series of events, a snow swell comes through with near whiteout conditions, and it just happens.”

Boehm said the accident report does not include what initially started the pileup and that no citations had been given as of Tuesday afternoon.

Among the vehicles in the crash was a bus carrying the Penn State Lehigh Valley men’s basketball team. No one on the bus sustained serious injuries, according to a Penn State news release.

The Lebanon County Red Cross provided buses to transport stranded motorists who weren’t injured to a local fire station. There, individuals were provided food, shelter and an opportunity to acquire rental vehicles and hotels.

PennLive.com reported that stranded motorists were being kept warm in the back of tractor-trailers until buses arrived at the scene.

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