Whiteout Conditions Lead To 140-Vehicle Pileup Near Montreal The crash spread out over nearly two-thirds of a mile. According to police, two people were killed and 29 were injured.
NPR logo Whiteout Conditions Lead To 140-Vehicle Pileup Near Montreal

Whiteout Conditions Lead To 140-Vehicle Pileup Near Montreal

Snow blowing across Montreal's St. Lawrence River contributed to a massive 140-vehicle crash in Canada, authorities say.

The pileup happened around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday along Highway 15, which runs parallel to the river, just south of Montreal.

Two people were killed and about 29 were injured, police say.

According to the Montreal Gazette, crews had to cut motorists out of their cars and shuttle buses took about 150 people to a community center where their injuries were evaluated. Most of the vehicles had to be towed.

Police say the scene spread out over nearly two-thirds of a mile, and CTV News reports the highway was closed in both directions for more than 3 miles. The roadway re-opened early Thursday morning.

Snow crews had cleared the roads just an hour before the crash, Quebec Transport Minister Fran├žois Bonnardel said during a Wednesday news conference.

"People were driving, [there were] strong winds ... and, suddenly, you couldn't see anything,'' Bonnardel said. "And then, well, the pileup started.''

Tourists from upstate New York told CTV News the scene was like something out of a movie.

Spencer Jacob told the TV station they pulled over because of poor conditions. Their car was clipped and an ambulance came to help.

"Another car came down and just flew into the back of the ambulance," Jacob said. "That blocked up two lanes and then another 18-wheeler came and just slammed into that car.

"That's when we were like 'this is bad,' and we need to get out of the car. Our doors were pressed against the snow so we had to get out of the windows and run up onto the snowbank and we were just watching."

Bonnardel said that area of Highway 15 is usually safe, with no snow-related fatalities reported in at least 20 years, but teams will study the corridor to see if any changes are needed to prevent future crashes.

Initially, police estimated nearly 200 vehicles were involved, but that was later downgraded.