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Freezing Rain Causes Black Ice, Lots Of Crashes

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Saturday's freezing rain quickly led to black ice and accidents all over the city and surrounding areas, including an overturned fire truck and multi-vehicle pile-ups.

"Be prepared for a period of icy conditions," said KDKA's Jon Burnett during his Saturday forecast.

A Freezing Rain Advisory was in effect until noon.

KDKA's Bob Allen Reports:

The National Weather Service warned, "A Freezing Rain Advisory means that freezing rain will cause travel difficulties. Be prepared for icy surfaces and use caution while driving."

Although the rain stopped, the Pittsburgh region was left with a large amount of crashes and accidents.

Many roads throughout and around the city had black ice.


Emergency responders were called to accidents along many major roads in Pittsburgh, including Interstate 79, McArdle Roadway, the Parkway and Route 51.

Interstate 79 experienced stops and delayed traffic in several areas near Carnegie and north of the city near Zelienople. Traffic was stopped in nearly every direction near the I-79/Parkway interchange during the afternoon.

There was a seven-car pileup on Route 30 where it joins the Parkway West inbound from I-79. An officer responding to that accident slipped on the ice and hit his head on a metal divider. He was taken to the hospital with a possible concussion.

The bridges connecting Route 22 to I-79 North and I-79 South are also closed due to accidents.

The Birmingham Bridge reportedly had to be closed and a rollover crash near Station Square had West Carson Street closed this afternoon.

Also in the city, Public Works officials say crews began salting at mid-morning. They say most reports of slick spots centered on: the Glenwood Bridge, Liberty Bridge, West End Circle, Birmingham Bridge, the 31st Street Bridge, a Bigelow Boulevard ramp between 6th Avenue and Washington Place, and the Bloomfield Bridge.

Public Works officials say "crews determined that pre-treating the surfaces would have been pointless as the rain would have washed the road treatments away before icing occurred."

But a lot of people took their frustrations out on social media.

The chairperson of Pittsburgh City Council's Public Works Committee read many of those comments. She talked to KDKA's Kym Gable.

KDKA's Kym Gable Reports:

"A lot of the comments were stemming from public safety folks who had concerns with yet another winter where they'd have to navigate difficult roads," said Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith.

Kail Smith says she wants to organize a meeting with the chair of the Public Safety Committee.

She says, even though Saturday's icy conditions were unpredictable and challenging to deal with, she would like to have more detailed plans in place for treating local roads.

"I'm sure they are already having these meetings and are coordinating services in some way," she said. "But I think it would give us something we could share with the public so they know, have some reassurance that we're doing the best we can."

mckees crash
A bad multi-car pileup in McKeesport following Saturday's freezing rain. (Photo Credit: KDKA Photographer Jeff Roupe)

A McKeesport fire truck hit a patch of ice on the ramp from the McKeesport-Duquesne Bridge, traveled down an embankment and flipped over.

Kenneth Ferree took several firefighters to the hospital.

"They had some facial injuries, some mouth injuries, they were bleeding from the head and from the face a little bit," said Ferree.

An 11-car pileup happened later on the same icy ramp near Bowman Avenue.

"The officer was actually trying to get the woman out of the car and there's people passing us 40, 50 miles an hour," said Ferree. "It's just unbelievable, slow down."

Police were also called to a multi-car pileup on the Boulevard of the Allies, near Oakland.

Mayor Bill Peduto's Chief of Staff Kevin Acklin saw the dangerous conditions firsthand.

"Unfortunately, it became an ice skating rink, so you had a dozen cars involved today," he said. "One happened, and after, the people weren't slowing down. They hit the other cars that were already wrecked."

It's not know if there were any injuries.

A seven-car pileup was reported on Route 28 near the Etna overpass. Three more were reported on Rt. 28 between the Highland Park Bridge and Harmar.

A fire truck is overturned on the side of the road in McKeesport due to icy conditions. (Photo Credit: KDKA Photographer Jeff Roupe)

Officials described Squaw Run Road in Fox Chapel as a sheet of ice and requested salt trucks.


In Aliquippa, Christian West hit a guardrail on the ramp to Interstate 376.

"As I stepped on the brake just to kind of coast into the turn, my car just took off. It went into a 360 and ski. I held on and was praying I didn't hit anybody," said West.

Cosimo Cravotta's car was damaged by a hit-and-run driver after ice formed on Route 65.

"A lady in a white Range Rover, she hit me from behind, and she took off," said Cravotta. "She hit another gentleman from behind and took off. She slid into me, she was on my bumper."

The Beaver County Transit Authority said all transit had to be suspended due to black ice. It's not known when service will be reinstated.

Pedestrians are also advised to use caution as some sidewalks may also be covered in ice.

Temperatures warmed up later in the afternoon, making the roads safer. But police are reminding drivers to slow down in the winter-like weather.

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