CUMRU TWP., Pa. - One person was killed and four others were injured in a crash that closed Interstate 176 in Berks County for nearly eight hours Monday night and early Tuesday morning.
The crash happened right before 6 p.m. in the northbound lanes, between the Route 724 and Route 10 interchanges, in Cumru Township, with one of the vehicles traveling across the grassy median and coming to rest on its roof on the southbound side of the highway.
"We have four vehicles involved -- three vehicles and a tractor trailer -- that are involved in the accident," said Cumru Township police Chief Madison Winchester.
A preliminary investigation, according to police, shows that a northbound Toyota sedan struck the rear of a Chevy pickup truck, causing the pickup to lose control, spin across the median, and overturn in the southbound lanes, where it was struck by a Jeep Cherokee. That impact then caused the Jeep to hit a tractor trailer.
The driver of the overturned pickup truck died at the scene, police said. The victim's name has not been released.
"This is the first that I've seen this close," said Matt Ashcroft, who lives in the nearby Flying Hills community. "You know, I've heard stories. I've read in the paper and seen on the news that there have been fatal accidents on 176, but I haven't actually personally witnessed something."
The drivers of the Toyota sedan and the Jeep, along with two of the Jeep's passengers, were taken to Reading Hospital for treatment of minor injuries. The tractor trailer driver was not injured.
Police described it as a "chaotic crash scene," with damaged vehicles and debris spread across all four lanes of the interstate.
"It looks that speed may be a contributing factor with this crash, but we won't know more until we actually can process all the evidence," Winchester told 69 News.
It's just kind of a cold reality and sobering reality to realize you need to be really focused on what you're doing when you're behind the wheel, that can oftentimes be a life or death situation," Ashcroft said.
The highway remained closed in both directions until shortly before 2 a.m. Tuesday while crews worked to clean up the mess and police and the Berks County district attorney's crash reconstruction team tried to figure out what happened.
Police are asking those who may have seen the crash to call them at 610-777-9595 or, if they prefer to remain anonymous, to contact Crime Alert Berks County via text to 847411, starting the message with alertberks, or by calling 877-373-9913.
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