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At least 100 first responders worked to clear massive Liberty Tunnel crash, get drivers out

Drivers stuck in Liberty Tunnel for hours after massive crash
Drivers stuck in Liberty Tunnel for hours after massive crash 02:48

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- At least 100 public safety responders were called to a massive crash at the Liberty Tunnel on Thursday night.

Seven people were taken to the hospital after a nine-car crash. One is in critical condition. Six others were transported in stable condition.  

The accident happened around 5:30 in the middle of rush hour traffic and while many were driving into the city for the Steelers game. 

"I will tell you, people starting to make this tunnel their home a little while ago. A lot of Steelers fans I think are in here," Leon Harrison said in a Facebook Live video as he was stuck inside the tunnel.  

KDKA-TV talked to someone who saw the accident scene and was stuck in traffic. 

"I seen a pile of cars on the left side. One was up on the wall in the tunnel. I saw a bunch of people outside their cars," Jamie Zinn said. 

Zinn was on his way home from work when he passed the accident.  

"There was a PennDOT worker, I guess he was one of the tunnel workers, trying to get the driver to respond. Both driver and passenger were slumped over in the front seat on top of airbags so I was just hoping everyone's okay. That was pretty bad," Zinn said.  

Paramedics rushed to the scene to help those injured. Fred Caprio, crew chief for Pittsburgh EMS, was one of the first people to arrive on scene.  

"These people were tangled in their cars stacked on top of each other. We had 20 paramedics in that tunnel with the jaws of life and all their tools working to cut these people out and take care of them," Caprio said.  

Within an hour, Caprio said they were able to get those injured to the hospital.  

"It looked pretty brutal. I hope everyone is OK," Zinn said.  

First responders then worked to help those stranded inside the tunnel.  

"We reversing out?" Harrison said in a Facebook Live video.  

"You're going to reverse it out. Three-point turn, however you choose to do so, but you're going that way," A first responder could be heard saying in the video. 

Pittsburgh police said about 4 1/2 hours after the accident happened, both sides of the tunnel were cleared.  

Harrison said he was stuck inside the tunnel for about two hours.  

"People are still in good spirits inside of here," Harrison said. "This was an event. Truly an event." 

Police said initial reports show a truck struck several cars before emerging from the tunnel. An investigation into how exactly the accident happened remains under investigation.  

First responders remind drivers to have patience when there is an accident on the road.  

"Give us the space we need. Whether it's police, fire, EMS, whether it's a tow truck, whether it's the PennDOT crew out there on the road, if we're out there working, we want to make sure nobody gets hurt," said Paul Sabol the division chief with Pittsburgh EMS. 

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