2 children die in ice-related crash in Butler
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A crash caused by icy road conditions claimed the lives of two boys in Butler County this morning, state police said.
It was one of numerous accidents across the region caused by rain showers that froze on contact with subfreezing surfaces.
The one-vehicle crash occurred on Lower Harmony Road a half-mile west of Route 528 in Connoquenessing Township at about 10:30 a.m., state police Lt. Eric Hermick said. Killed were Liam Bintrim, 3, and Declan McCullough, whose first birthday would have been Friday.
Police said their mother, identified as Elisabeth A. McCullough, 32, of Harmony, lost control of her 2004 Dodge Durango on a long downhill stretch on fresh asphalt that had completely glazed over.
The vehicle left the road on the wrong side, traveled about 81 feet, veered back across, hit an embankment and toppled slightly before slamming into a tree that collided with the back seating area.
"Both boys were properly seat-belted and restrained," Lt. Hermick said. The mother was not injured.
A spate of crashes that started just after rain moved in and froze on contact put Butler County "in turmoil," he said. "We had cars going everywhere."
National Weather Service meteorologist Lee Hendricks said surfaces in some low-lying areas were cold enough to freeze, even though air temperatures were generally above freezing.
As of noon, most of the showers had moved out of the Pittsburgh area, and Mr. Hendricks said he did not anticipate additional problems this afternoon.
"The issue is pretty much over as far as the icing goes," he said.
Motorists using social media reported icy pavement this morning on Interstate 79 between Portersville and Zelienople and on Route 28 near Tarentum.
"There are multiple, multiple crashes all over the county," said Steve Bicehouse, Butler County director of emergency services.
U.S. Route 422 was closed for a time in both directions from Heist to Carbon Center roads in Summit, Butler County, by a crash, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation spokeswoman Deborah Casadei said. It reopened this afternoon, but the westbound side was closed between Route 8 and Route 356.
Multiple crashes also occurred in Armstrong and Clarion counties.
Route 286 was closed in Montgomery, Indiana County, by a crash with a fuel spill near Bennett Road, Ms. Casadei said.
Eastbound Interstate 80 was closed from Sigel-Brookville to Hazen by a multivehicle crash. Traffic was being forced to exit at Sigel-Brookville and follow a detour until this afternoon, when one eastbound lane reopened. Both lanes were open by 2:30 p.m.
First Published January 9, 2013 11:10 am