- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 20, 2009

MYERSVILLE, Md. (AP) | A pileup of 35 cars and five tractor-trailers on a snowy Maryland highway killed two Frederick women and seriously injured at least a dozen, state police said.

Snow was at least partly to blame for the 12:30 p.m. Monday crash on Interstate 70 near South Mountain in northwestern Maryland, state police spokeswoman Elena Russo said. About 1 1/2 inches of snow fell quickly about the same time as the pileup.

State police identified the dead as Lori Anne Shipley, 51, and Barbara Anne Pacifico, 53. Both were driving alone and were pronounced dead at the scene.

Twelve seriously injured people were taken to Washington County Hospital, Miss Russo said.

Troopers said they were looking for a brown minivan, which might have damage on the passenger side, that was traveling west on I-70 shortly before the crash and left the scene.

State police said the minivan may have been involved in the initial crash that led to the pileup, which closed the interstate for more than 10 hours.

Jessica Granek, 21, of Columbia, was driving west with three friends to go skiing at Whitetail as visibility was getting worse from the snow, which left a slushy mess on the ground.

“We started to see brake lights, and I saw a blue SUV turn hard and become perpendicular to the road,” Miss Granek said.

“That made everyone put their brakes on and [they] started sliding. We were fortunate to veer off the right side of road.” She described a scene “out of a movie or TV show” with cars spinning out of control and “kept getting nailed from every side.” Cars veered off into a wooded area, and Miss Granek said she saw a tractor-trailer that “flew by everyone and went into the woods.” An oil tanker jumped a guardrail.

Somehow, Miss Granek’s car was untouched. After a tanker narrowly missed her car, she and her friends ran into the woods away from the road. She called 911, and emergency crews were on the scene within minutes.

Miss Granek and her friends were among 71 people, including infants and the elderly, who were taken to a Red Cross shelter in Washington County, said Julie Barr-Strasburg, executive director of the county’s Red Cross chapter.

Most of the people taken to the shelter suffered from “bumps and bruises” and received first aid, she said.

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