LENOX, Mass. — Four motor vehicle accidents involving at least 10 cars stopped traffic on routes 7 and 20 in both the north and southbound lanes early this morning.
According to a press release issued by Police Chief Stephen O’Brien, officers from the Lenox Police Department were responding to a two-car, head-on crash that occurred around 7 a.m. when other vehicles were forced off the road because of extremely icy conditions. In addition to Lenox Police, Lenox Fire Department and state police as well as County Ambulance were called to the scene to assist.
One eyewitness, Brian Sisco of Sheffield, said he was driving through Lenox at 8 a.m. on his way to work when he met up with black ice and bumper-to-bumper traffic in the north and southbound lanes.
"I was coming up through Lee on Route 20 and Lee was fine," he said. "But once Route 7 came up on the bypass that's when things got ugly. There was a road block both ways at Walker Street and they were sending people right or left. The road was definitely slick with black ice. At one point at a stop light my tires were spinning. The roads weren't sanded or salted or anything."
The first accident included what appeared to be a small light-colored pickup or sport utility vehicle with heavy front-end damage. The second vehicle was over the banking of the northbound lane. Emergency vehicles were parked along the side of the road for nearly 100 yards.
A light snow was falling over Pittsfield and South County in the early morning hours. Roadways were slushy through much of the region.
According to Sisco, traffic was backed up for at least a mile and half as police and rescue workers tried to handle one crash after another, saying there were at least three flatbeds and two tow trucks trying to clear away disabled vehicles.
"I drove through Great Barrington at about 6:30 this morning and the roads were fine; sanded and salted. The same through Stockbridge and Lee," he said. "It did not look slippery at all. There was snow covering the roads but it just looked wet. You would think that because there are so many people who drive up Route 7 to get to work that that road would be salted as well. Pittsfield was fine, too. They had already sanded."
The road was finally opened again at 8 a.m. when it was deemed passable by police. At least eight people were transported to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield. Although none were reported to have life-threatening injuries, investigators are still compiling operator and vehicle information. Police said one accident involved eight vehicles.